take a deep breath and relax...

yoga nidra

it means to relax which does not have to necessarily take place in yoga class. you do not have to twist into a pretzel. you do not have to chant or pray. you only have to breathe and relax.

now that we have gotten that out of the way...for you neophytes - many things are beneficial about the actual act of relaxation, not just 'relaxing'. many of us are usually either in the grind and busy working, or vegging out in front of the TV, or drinking/eating and then sleeping. do you see how there is no true relaxation?

chances are many of us are constantly surrounded by:
a ringing cell phone
a computer
a television
another person
moving images (via transport)
books and magazines

we hardly take the time to:
stop and listen to the complete silence that naturally surrounds you
listen and work on our breath

so, let's explore the definition of relaxation:
total abatement or relief from bodily or mental work, effort, application.

let's start with the basics. breathing helps to sustain life. using our common sense, we know it helps us to de-stress and slow down our heart rate. it is something that happens involuntarily and something we rarely think about (unless you are a runner, yogi or swimmer - besides other things).

but no one takes the time to consider how obsessed we are with the actual act of breathing. in fact - that is all smoking is...breathing in......hold, and out. except, air is free - not $8 a pack, and (mostly) clean and clear of pesticides, chemicals and life-harming drugs.

it's actually amusing to me when people either discount breath-work, or assume they know it all. the truth is - breathing and relaxing go together. here is my advice: if you don't have time to work on your breathing, then you have to work on your breathing. likewise, if you don't have time to work on your relaxation, you have to relax. got it? good.

many studies have been designed to measure the brain's activity during deep relaxation to see exactly what proof stands regarding it's effectiveness. one study in particular I am referring to was conducted by a brain researcher and his team at The Kennedy Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.

basically the subject lies down in a PET scan bed. the only other object in the room besides the 21 electrodes attached to their head, is a guided relaxation CD which they are listening to in headphones. there are 7 subjects, who will remain in the PET scan for one and a half hours each.

the study showed the individuals had EEG (brain activity) which was similar to the relaxed state of sleep except they remained in complete control and were never unconscious or drowsy at any point. imagine you could be in control over your thoughts, visions, manifestations and dreams - all while completely relaxed?

what about being able to completely concentrate and focus on one activity for an undisturbed period of time? think about all you could accomplish by becoming a more focused and determined mind.

pictures were taken before (1), during (4) and after (3) the relaxation. before and after, the pictures illustrated the state closest to normal waking consciousness - sans stress and fatigue. during the relaxation - there was an increased ability to visualize and become more in touch with one's emotions.

so, the fact remains - for those of you who needed scientific proof. relaxation does a body good. here are some helpful links for you if you would like to start relaxing today: (for the guided relaxations, my advice is to put on headphones to your laptop, etc. and listen in that capacity as opposed to watching it....you should be lying down with eyes closed unless noted to be seated)

the study itself
guided relaxation - male voice, 10 minutes
guided relaxation - male voice, 9:18 minutes
guided relaxation/meditation - female voice, around 8 minutes
guided relaxation - female voice, 10 minutes: seated

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