It is important to guard against the trap that the offering of relaxation after a yoga class becomes just another form of hypnotism, because many of the relaxation techniques can so easily become just that. True relaxation will allow the body to assimilate the added flow of prana that was created during the asana practice and in doing so the body learns to find and seek a natural equilibrium and state of healing as the parasympathetic nervous system is activated.
Psychologically the relaxation is meant to guide the yogi to let go of any effort and identification with the physical body and emotions. As the asana (savasana or corpse pose) used for this relaxation suggests, it is also a dying of the physical body and a rebirth into a fresh innocence. So in essence the relaxation is a detachment from the body, from your aspirations, from your accomplishments, your possessions, plans and personal history, and in doing so one opens yourself to the great mystery in front of you, which is awareness or consciousness.
The relaxation at the end of a class is the psychosomatic release of all of who/that you think you are, a free fall into groundless ground, the pathless path, but coupled with clear alertness and being mindfully present. This becomes your foundation for the meditation that follows after the relaxation.
Mindfullness Meditation after the class
I teach Mindfulness Meditation, which has three very distinct behaviours or phases.
1. The first I call the arrival and centering. This implies being aware of your body, in other words selecting a comfortable position and posture for it to sit, choosing a room with certain vibrations, lighting a candle and incense. These are all the aspects I associate with this phase. Once you have arrived, you can move into the next phase, which is centering. In other words, commit yourself to what you are about to do, meditating, focussing your awareness on what you want to achieve and how you going to achieve it. During this phase you can recite a mantra or you can read an inspiring piece to facilitate this phase. I also like to watch the thoughts that come up in my mind and to tell my mind constantly that there is no need to worry about the thought it just brought up. Eventually the mind realsie that it can relax and stop its chattering by wanting to control everything. Once you have achieved peace you need, you can move to the next phase, which I call anchoring and labelling.
2. In the second phase of anchoring and labelling, we anchor the breath by mindfully practicing a few rounds of pranayama. It is a time to open to greater awareness that includes sensations, emotions and even states of mind. This practice creates a state of calm abiding or what the Buddhists call shamantha. When we rest our awareness on a single anchor without any expectation or outcome other than pure observance or awareness, it is considered the foundation for mindfulness meditation. Now you can employ techniques such as mantra, advanced pranayama, concentration and contemplation to further develop this awareness, which leads you to the final phase of accepting and letting go.
3. When you accept and let go, your meditation reach a point where you suspend any effort to edit or censure what is happening. To stay mindful, aware and conscious, you have to accept that which mindfulness finds and say “yes” to it every moment and this in turn imply that you are present in every moment without lapse. Eventually you will recognise meditation happening all the time, when washing the dishes or clothes or picking up after your children etc., becomes part of mindfulness meditation.
Om’s and blessings.