Hatha Yoga Relaxation Poses

Get up and go Preliminaries.

A. After about 10 breaths of pendulum breathing the ‘ I'm relaxing better' feeling will flood in. Once this is experienced concentrate your thoughts on your left hand (if you are right-handed; your right if you are left-handed).

B. Tension in the hands is not as easy to assess as leg tension because the fingers are feeling tenseness generated elsewhere in the arm. A good way to assess hand and finger tension is to place a stiff postcard between the fingers of the left hand and try to hold it there while the right hand tries gently to pull it free. The sort of feeling of tension experienced is very much what the victim of writer's cramp feels as he tries to speed his pen across the page in anticipation of his thoughts or to some real or imagined deadline. As the hand muscles relax (as they will easily do as the pendulum breathing proceeds), the postcard will slip easily through the fingers, even though they remain quite close together. Once the left hand has learnt the feeling of relaxation, the right hand can be taught to experience the same thing.

C. Then concentrate on the relaxed left hand, giving the right fleeting attention until it too relaxes.

By now you will be beginning to master an art that you are going to use a lot in the future – the art of learning to relax a tense part of the body quickly, by developing an awareness of tension versus relaxation. You are learning to be aware of the feeling of relaxation, and learning to be able to stay with this feeling in conjunction with your pendulum breathing. You will be able to spot tension without having to make yourself experience it. On Day One you had to feel the hardness of your leg muscles to experience tension in a positive way. Now you have to recognize and remember the tense feeling without making that part of the body tense by contracting muscles.

D. Deep hand relaxation: Start with the muscles in the hand. Remember the relaxed feeling and then reinforce the relaxation feeling without actually having to test that you have relaxed the particular muscles. It sounds complicated but it is really quite easy. Practise deep hand relaxation by allowing the hand to spread out and feel big. A good tip is to write down your name and address a few times and then progressively get that hand to relax. Quite soon the pen refuses to mark the paper as the muscle tension drains away. Once you have the feel of this, stay with this feeling for 10 to 20 pendulum breaths.

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