I used to associate relaxation with being lazy. And even being a yoga teacher who understands the importance of it to lead healthy, long, youthful lives, I still catch myself seeing relaxation as a lazy act. Can you relate to this too?
Relaxation is our natural state, but the world we live in is too fast-paced, pressurized and overwhelming. A lot of us are actually living in a state of unease, stress and tension, only being able to feel relaxed occasionally. This way of being is a recipe for the body to break down, speeding up the ageing process and becoming ill. Because just like nature, our body has the inner intelligence to heal, repair and regenerate, but only if it is relaxed – in a harmonious state.
So, how can we relax? We need to look at the whole picture; into all facets of our self. The mind, body and spirit. Below I've listed a few ideas to relax that you can easily incorporate into everyday life from the ongoing bi-monthly mini yoga retreats I run in Bali at Ubud Yoga Centre!
1. Clear your mind
Are you always concerned about things in life? Think back on the times when you were worried about something, were you able to get things done while being creative, happy and productive? Most possibly not. What is it like if, for one moment, you take a vacation from all concerns? I'm not saying to throw responsibility out the window but to seriously reflect and see if you can meditate without all the distress in your mind taking your energy. Can you remain in peace without any worry and free your mind? How would this feel? What heaviness could you drop from your mind?
2. Start a meditation practice
Because our minds are so active these days, it is really beneficial to meditate with mantras because they powerfully assist in cutting through the negativity and clutter in the mind, creating more peace and relaxation. One of my favorite mantras to chant is the Mul Mantra. To start you can simply sit cross-legged, close your eyes, look down towards the tip of your nose to help slow your thoughts and listen to the mantra. Eventually, you will be able to chant along.
3. Slow your breathing
It really is this simple, but so many people don't do it because they are not conscious; they are not even aware they are breathing shallowly. When we breathe shallowly we can easily move into an anxious energetic state. Place your hand on your belly just below the navel and take slow, long and deep breaths all the way to the top of the ribs. Focus on slow even breaths.
4. Connect to nature
Mother nature's energy is calm and re-balances our cells. When we ground into the earth, whether it is swimming, walking bare-footed or eating lunch in the park, the energy has a powerful healing effect and rebalances the trillions of cells in our body.
5. Avoid all food that doesn't make you feel good
Eat healthy food for your body, mind, and soul. Cut down specifically on caffeine, soft drink, power drinks, white flour, and sugar. Anything with stimulants or that's refined will aggravate your nervous system and leave you feeling wired, awake, but very tired at the same time.
6. Incorporate harmonious sounds into everyday life
Studies have proven the sounds of birds to be one of the most powerful sounds in healing. Through sound, one can quickly move into deep relaxation. Become aware of how the music and sounds you expose yourself to impact the state of your mind, body and soul. Attend a sound healing class. Today I attended a yoga workshop and the teacher played this instrument at the start, I drifted off into a deep sleep in minutes and was extremely calm and relaxed for hours making me feel rejuvenated and more youthful.
And most of all, listen to yourself. Only YOU know what is best. What makes you come alive? Is it reading, cooking, playing basketball, running, doing yoga, playing with or walking your dog...? Do this, the simple act of engaging in healthy activities which bring you joy will pull you into the present moment, cultivate positive feelings of love, connection and gratitude, allowing your energy to flow and creating relaxation, radiance, and fulfillment. After all, relaxation comes when we engage in activities close to our heart, that we enjoy.
For more information about Alexis and her Bali retreats, go to her page at Yoga Meditation Sound.
Want to gain a deep relaxation on a yoga retreat? Go to BookYogaRetreats.com and search among thousands of yoga holidays all over the world!