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It's important to recognize the mind-body connection as part of your overall fitness plan. The process of relaxation will help reduce the wear and tear on your mind, body, and spirit.
There are no hard and fast rules for relaxation. A “relaxation technique” includes anything that helps you relieve stress by increasing your awareness of your body and refocuses your mind to something calm. Meditation is an important part of a yoga practice, for beginner yoga as well as intermediate and advanced levels.
You may use some or all of these relaxation techniques as part of your yoga meditation during a yoga class, or try them as part of your yoga meditation at home on your own or while watching a yoga DVD, for example:
-Visualization. Close your eyes, sit quietly, and use as many senses as you can to imagine traveling to a peaceful place, such as a quiet beach along the ocean, and imagine the smell of the salt air and the sound of the waves.
-Progressive muscle relaxation. Lie on your back on the floor or a mat. Focus on slowly tensing and relaxing each major muscle group. Start with your shoulders, then your arms and hands, and then your chest, hips, legs, and feet. Or start with your toes and move up. Squeeze the muscles in each area for 5 seconds, then relax for 30 seconds and move to the next group. This technique helps you recognize the difference between tension and relaxation, and you will start to learn your tension trouble spots and sense when they are especially tight.
-Autogenic relaxation. This technique combines visualization and muscle relaxation. To practice autogenic relaxation, repeat words or suggestions in your mind while focusing on relaxing your muscles. Send a deep, calming breath to the tight spots, and allow those tight muscles to unclench and relax.