What does the word “relax” mean to you?
The Oxford Dictionary says that the verb “relax” means to make or become less tense or anxious.
But how do you actually relax and what would “relax” actually feel like?
At this time of year, the need to relax seems to be even more critical as we race and run, get stressed and agitated in our quest to buy holiday gifts, plan family dinners or attend work-related parties.
The constant worry of everyday pressures such as paying the bills, issues at work, concern for our loved ones, even worry over our own health, prevent us from being able to relax.
But, if you were able to completely eliminate all of these external pressures allowing you the opportunity to completely relax, what would you do? Would you stay at home and watch television? Would you go for a walk on the beach? Would you read a book? Would you exercise or maybe meet a friend for dinner or a drink?
Some people I know would say, “anything not to do with work will relax me”, or “a night away from the kids will totally relax me”.
What would it take for you to totally relax?
Yoga, relaxes me.
My ability to attend yoga class the three to four times a week that I go, is the culmination of some sacrifice on the parts of others. My wife and children know that yoga is important to me and to my well being, so they give me “permission” to go; meaning, they will not interfere in any way while I am at my class. Unless there was some kind of emergency and they needed to get a hold of me, they know that for the hour or so that I am gone, I cannot be contacted. This is one obstacle that brings me closer to “relax”.
Yoga encourages you to be present…to not let your mind drift, as it so often does, to thoughts about the past or about the future. Being present can actually relax you because you are focusing only on the present and not worrying about its outcome.
At the end of each yoga class, we perform “savasna” or corpse-pose. In this pose you lie in a comfortable position (usually on your back, sometimes supported with blankets or bolsters) and you simply let your practice go…what’s done is done. Mind and body completely relax.
This is as close to “relaxed” as I will ever get.
Letting my body rest after a physically grueling class is easy…totally relaxing the mind is the challenge. But when I am able to focus my mind on being present, nothing comes close to feeling absolutely relaxed.
Don’t get me wrong, staying at home with my family, hanging with close friends or going for a nice walk on a beautiful day, are all good examples of stress-reducing activities. But there will always be something that triggers tenseness or anxiety (an upsetting phone call, a noisy restaurant or stepping in dog poo!)
Once I am into my yoga practice, there is nothing else.