Practicing yoga results in a variety of health benefits. From lengthening and increasing muscle flexibility to decreasing blood pressure, respiration and heart rate. Yoga’s practical techniques encourage relaxation and healing. And yoga’s breath work and meditation, replenishes mind, body and spirit, whisking away, for example, preoccupations that bother you while awake and restlessness that interferes with sound sleep.
According to National Center for Biotechnology Information, concentration on the breath, which yoga enables, moves attention away from worries resulting in a stress-free state of mind, evoking a relaxed response in the parasympathetic nerve (responsible for restoring the body to a state of calm) lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Overriding the sympathetic nervous system, initiating the body’s fight or flight response when the body is under stress. Similarly, The National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCM) encourages using mind-body awareness (as practiced in yoga) to produce the body’s natural relaxation responses, decrease breath rate and blood pressure and increase a sense of feeling calm and well-being. Taken together, this practice and these results counter the long term effects of stress which include depression, digestive disorder, headache, high blood pressure and insomnia.
With all of my private clients, I end the sessions with mind-body awareness (also known as Savasana or Yoga Nidra). While in Savasana, the body is reclined and supported by the ground, using breath work and visualization techniques, the body begins to relax, restoring lost energy. My clients report leaving their yoga session with an overall feeling of well-being, rested, relaxed and rejuvenated. In guiding my clients through the relaxation process, I create verbal cues tailored to help them with visualization, use individualized hands on therapeutic touch creating a relaxed state and promote their healing process.
To begin Savasana, I create a quiet, calm atmosphere and dim the lights. I have the client lie down in a comfortable position on a yoga mat, arms relaxed along-side the body, palms facing the ceiling, eyes closed, legs extended with the feet hip width distance apart. When the body is relaxed and still, the body temperature tends to lower, so I use a light blanket as a cover. If at any point during Savasana I see them become uncomfortable a position, I make adjustments that continue the relaxation process, allowing the body to settle in and feel supported. Through questions and observation, I notice where any tension remains within their body and help them to consciously relax the area. I lead the client’s awareness to every part of the body, starting with their toes, feet, legs, hips, leading to the organs, stomach, lungs and heart then moving to the chest then neck and face. The whole body is relaxed. While the client is peacefully at rest can they begin to restore lost energy and recover from daily stress.
After a few minutes of deep relaxation, I bring the client gently out of Savasana. Slowly I have the client wiggles their fingers, toes, reach their arms over head, lengthening their body to stretch. The client gently turns onto their right side, into a fetal position using both hands to support their head. Using their left hand slowly, pushing up into a comfortable seated position. I guide the client to take three deep breaths. On the last inhalation, I have the client hold their breath one-to-two seconds then completely exhale. The client leaving their yoga session feeling rested and calm. The mind-body awareness process is very restorative and one that I highly recommend for relaxation, to help with sleep and begin to healing process.