The Yoga of Relaxation

We live in a pretty tightly wound society. Expectations and drive and doing our best and giving up and some serious societal issues, nuclear threats and pending environmental collapse. The pressure is on. And it’s taking its toll.

Counterbalancing the stress and the tension is relaxation. Relaxation is an ever-deepening well that processes and eliminates tons of the physical and mental clutter we collect throughout the day. It unplugs us, if just for a moment, and lets us return with fresh eyes. It restores our clarity, our health, our ease with the world. It doesn’t deny or avoid the stresses, it processes and releases them. Sign me up.

I remember the first time I stood in tree pose in line at the bank (a long time ago, when people went to banks). I was so thrilled to have yoga penetrating my life and day, moving past class and an often cursory home practice. It invigorated all of the aspects of the practice (formal, casual, incidental) for years. That experience is similar but pales in comparison to integrating relaxing into my life and day. It’s especially important for me because I am conscious of the fact that if i am not actively relaxing, I am actively contracting. If I want to experience freedom, I have to invoke it, it’s not my standard state. It may have been at one point, but myself and society trained me out of it. Maybe one day it will be effortless, but for now it is choice by decision by choice.

And the best part? Every time I make the choice, I feel the win. Every time I check in with the feeling state of my body and relax on the exhale, and offer expansion on the inhale and deeper relaxation on the exhale – every time I do it I feel the satisfaction of doing something life=positive for my body. as I do it more and more, it seeps into each relationship, because I am relaxing as I am relating, opening more to listening than trying to impose my view of the world on the situation. the more i listen to others, the more intimacy i feel and the feeling of being present to someone recognizes the gift of their sharing. It’s a virtuous circle.

Focusing my time and attention on being present in the body and to the emotions and actively relaxing hasn’t solved all my problems, but it makes my life extraordinarily richer and makes me feel i’m moving in the right direction. I feel that relaxation is surrendering to love, letting love carry us and all we encounter. Trust in Life Itself to handle itself in our lives as expertly as it unfolds in perfect balance throughout all of creation. and a willingness not to need to author it all.

Acknowledging relaxation as what it is: accepting ourselves in our humanity in this moment, and making that our yoga – our path of union – – – it literally is the path of union, with ourselves and our right-now life, the only place we can express ourselves as we truly are. Touching in with timelessness. Being open to life itself. Feeling at least some sense of safety.