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5 Relaxation Exercises for Emotional Stress

Emotions are either positive or negative. The positive emotions produce a generally beneficial effect on the nervous and endocrine systems while the negative one disrupts these. The nervous and endocrine systems are thrown out of gear by negative emotions and this leads to various types of illness which are sometimes quite serious, depending on the intensity and duration of the emotions in question. A distinction must be drawn between positive and negative emotions. 

Positive emotions are confidence, hope, joy, gratitude, devotion etc. while negative emotions are rage, jealousy, despondency, fear, distress, envy, hatred etc. Its important to remember that the body and mind are intimately linked. The influence of mind over body is considerably greater than that of body over mind. It is the emotional aspect of mental activity which exercises the most powerful influence over the body; particularly the nervous and endocrine systems.




COMPLETE YOGIC RELAXATION

The thyroid and sexual glands are important among the endocrine glands. The sexual glands are easily influenced by the emotions. To control our emotions and dominate over our impulses, there are five highly useful exercises based on Shavasna, Anulome Viloma Pranayama, Rhythmic Breathing, Interiorisation and Meditation. They help soothe the mind, produce a beneficial effect on the entire organism and revivify the nervous system.

1. SHAVASANA (COMPLETE YOGIC REAXATION POSTURE)
Lie supine with the back, neck and head in a straight line. Make sure the legs and arms are slightly spread apart with the palms of the hands partially turned upwards. According to would be mother’s constitution and during the later stages of pregnancy, it is advisable to place a small cushion under the head and one larger cushion each under the legs, making sure the feet are resting on the ground.

Body Parts
• Close the eyes and relax completely… look within and listen to the heart beat…relax the abdominal region… legs… thighs… knees… calves… ankles…feet…

• Relax the arms…shoulders…elbows…hands…fingers….

• Relax the neck….back of the neck…head…face…forehead…eyes….eyelids….nostrils… jaws….cheeks…

Major body Parts
• Relax the thoracic region…abdominal region…the legs…the arms…the back of the neck…i.e. the cervical region and the head.

Whole body
• Relax from head to toe…release each muscle…cell…nervous fibre…allow the weight of the body to lie on the ground… feel the body is becoming lighter and lighter…

Attention on the Breath
Relax the mind by directing the attention to the breath…breathe slowly…deeply…regularly… without using any body force…allow the breath to come and go freely… stay with the breath…with each breath feel that your entire being is filled with calm and wellbeing…

Few points to remember:

• While relaxing, one should leave aside the problems of the outside world and everyday life.

• It is important to remain consciously aware of deep relaxation. The relaxation of the body begins in the mind. If the attention wanders, it must be gently brought back without forcing towards the breath.

• Shavasana is one of the best remedies against anxiety and all forms of nervous or emotional tension.

2. ANULOM- VILOMA (BREATHING THROUGH ALTERNATE NOSTRILS)

Sit in a comfortable position steadily. Bring the palm of the right hand facing the face. Bend the first two fingers next to the thumb inside. Now put the right thumb on the right nostril and last two fingers of the same hand should be used to press the left nostril. Remember, for the practice of this Pranayama, always start & finish the breathing from the left nostril.

TECHNIQUE

• Close the right nostril with the thumb and breathe in through the left nostril counting four heartbeats.

• Then open the right nostril while closing the left nostril with the ring & little fingers and breathe out through the right nostril to the count of eight beats.

• Keeping the fingers in the same position, breathe in through the right nostril counting four beats

• Now close the right nostril with the thumb & breathe out through the left nostril to the count of eight beats.

• This completes one round of Anuloma-Viloma Pranayama.

• This exercise is to be performed three times a day-morning, noon and evening-before meals and can be repeated upto seven times in a session.

• After few weeks of regular practice, the counts can be increased to 5-10, 7-14 etc.

Anulom-Vilom Pranayama, if practiced regularly, is one of the best exercises for purifying the nervous system and bringing calmness to the mind. It regulates the secretion of hormones, revitalizes the nervous system, oxygenates the body and ensures the correct functioning of the entire organism. It is particularly recommended for those suffering from anxiety and depression.

3. RHYTHMIC BREATHING WITH AUTO SUGGESTION

• This exercise is performed with the back upright, sitting either in Padmasana, Ardh Padmasana or cross-legged posture. Keep your hands on the knees in Gyan Mudra position. Close the eyes.
• Inhale as in complete Yogic breathing .i.e. abdominal, middle chest and upper-chest or clavicular, mentally counting 6 heartbeats.

• Then slowly exhale through the nostrils again counting to 6 beats.

• Repeat the exercise several times.

• You can regulate the breathing with the help of words suggesting positive things.

• With each respiration say to yourself mentally that I am a peaceful soul or just think of peace.

• Repeat them to yourself rhythmically and harmoniously during inhalation and exhalation so that in the end you identify with them.

• While concentrating on it, we attain perfect joy and inner peace.

Rhythmic breathing allows more oxygen into the body, relieves the aging of muscles and helps to re-establish the equilibrium of the nervous and neuro-vegetal system. It also eliminates anxiety by acting on the sympathetic nerve and the thalamus (interior region of the brain).

WHAT IS COMPLETE YOGIC BREAHTING

In complete Yogic breathing, we combine all the three parts-abdominal, middle and upper parts of the chest. It may be helpful to imagine a glass of water when the water is poured into a glass; it fills the bottom, then middle then the top. When you pour it out it goes out of the top, then middle then bottom. The complete breath is also the same. The whole process of inhaling and exhaling should be done as one smooth, continuous movement like a wave and the time ratio of the breath while inhaling and exhaling should be equal. With a little patience and perseverance the desired results will be achieved.

• In the first stages of learning, it is best to lie flat on the back with eyes closed, relaxing the face and the body. Begin by observing the natural inhalation and exhalation of your breath without changing anything. Just allow the body to breathe itself.

• Now begin to inhale deeply through the nose and allow the abdomen to rise, continue inhaling until you have expanded your chest and finally the upper portion of the lungs.

• While exhaling, reverse the process. Exhale deeply through the nose then the upper portion of the lungs then the rib cage and finally contract the abdomen.

• Continue for about ten breaths.

• This is the complete Yogic breath.

When we do breathing consciously, a much greater supply of oxygen is thus brought into the blood stream. This means that the vital organs, endocrine glands, nervous centres and the body tissues are better nourished. We are filled with a feeling of mental and physical peace. The complete breath is not just deep breathing; it is the deepest possible breathing.

4. INTERIORISATION (DIRECTING ONE’S ATTENTION INWARD)

This exercise is performed with the back upright, sitting either in Padmasana, Ardh Padmasana, or cross-legged position, the back of the right hand resting in the palm of the left hand(right up left down) on the lap. Close the eyes.

• Begin by regulating the breathing to relax the body & mind…
• Let go…
• Withdraw your mind from outside world and take it inside…
• Allow the attention to remain centred on the depths of one’s inner being…
• Surrender to the moment and watch yourself as a silent witness…
• If thoughts come into mind, observe them…be a detached and passive observer…
• Feel that the thoughts are calming down…
• Move away from the thoughts…
• Only a light of consciousness is left within…
• Whatever is happening let it happen…
• Let go completely…
• Keep looking inside with awareness…
• Everything has become silent…
• To come back take a few deeper breaths and gently open your eyes…

5. MEDITATION

• Assume the same position as for interiorisation…
• Begin breathing rhythmically for some time…
• Let go of any thoughts or distractions…
• Let the mind focus on feeling the breath move in… and out… of your body…
• It will help concentrate the mind and provide effective preparation for Meditation.
• Once a regular breathing pattern has been established, direct the attention towards the spiritual heart, located slightly to the right of the physical one…
• Feel the center of your chest warm and radiant, full of energy…
• See this energy as an emerald green light, radiating out from the center of your heart into the rest of your body…
• Feel it is the Soul of our Soul… the Essence of our being… the Source of our life...
• Stay with this visualization as long as you want.
• To come back take a few deeper breaths and gently open your eyes…

While meditating on the self, we are detached from material constraints, we go beyond the limitation of the body and we transcend our awareness of the ego. This brings us great mental tranquility and unfailing inner force. Then you no longer feel depressed and negative.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti