Life has become very complex in these days. The struggle for existence is very acute and keen. There is very keen competition in every walk of life. The bread problem has become very difficult to be solved. There is unemployment everywhere. Even brilliant young men with extraordinary qualification and recom- mendations hardly get job in these days. Therefore, a great deal of continuous mental and physical strain is imposed on modern humanity by its deadening daily work and unhealthy mode of life.
Action produces movement; movement causes habits. Man has acquired many artificial habits. He has allowed nature's original habits to lapse. He has brought tension in many muscles and nerves through incorrect habit-positions. He has forgotten the first principles of relaxation. He will have to learn lessons from the cat, dog and the infant in the Science of Relaxation.
If you practise relaxation, no energy will be wasted. You will be very active, and energetic. During relaxation the muscles and nerves are at rest. The Prana or energy is stored up and conserved. The vast majority of persons who have no comprehensive understanding of this beautiful science of relaxation simply waste their energy by creating unnecessary movements of muscles and by putting the muscles and nerves under great strain.
Some persons shake their legs unnecessarily while sitting. Some play Mridang or Tabala (drum) with their fingers on the table when their minds are idle or vacant. Some whistle. Some shake their heads. Some tap their chests or abdomen with their fingers. Energy is thus dissipated or depleted through un- necessary movements of the parts of the body on account of lack of knowledge of the elementary principles of the science of relaxation.
Do not mistake laziness for relaxation. The lazy man is inactive. He has no inclination to work. He is full of lethargy and inertia. He is dull. Whereas a man who practises relaxation takes only rest. He has vigour, strength, vitality and endurance. He never allows even, a small amount of energy to trickle away. He accomplishes wonderful work gracefully in a minimum space of time.
When you wish to contract a muscle in order to perform an action an impulse is transmitted from the brain through the nerve to the muscle. Energy or Prana travels through the motor nerves, reaches the muscle and causes it to draw its ends together. When the muscle contracts it pulls the limb which you wish to move. Now you can perform the action with ease. First there is thought. Thought takes form in action through contraction of muscles.
Suppose you wish to lift up a chair. The desire creates an impulse in the brain. The impulse is transmitted to the muscles of the arms from the brain through the motor nerves. A current of prana or energy is transmitted along the nerves from the brain. The muscles contract and you perrform the action of lifting up the chair. Similarly all other conscious or unconscious actions are performed by you. If the muscles are overworked more energy is spent and you get fatigue. There is much wear and tear in the muscles through overwork, strain and tension on account of heavy expenditure of Prana or energy.
When you perform an action consciously message is given to the mind and the mind immediately obeys by sending a current of energy to the desired part. An unconscious act is done instinctively or mechanically. The mind does not wait for orders. When the scorpion stings you in a finger, the finger is at once withdrawn. You do not argue here. This is an instinctive or mechanical movement.
A man of easily irritable nature cannot enjoy peace of mind. His brain, nerves and muscles are always under high tension. He is wasting every minute abundant muscular and nerve energy and brain- power. He is a very weak man though he is endowed with physical strength, because he loses his balance of mind very easily. If you really want to enjoy unruffled peace and abiding joy, you must try to possess a calm, controlled and balanced mind by eradicating worry, anxieties, fear, anger, and impulses.
You do not gain anything by worrying yourself unnecessarily and manifesting anger for nothing at all. Anger belongs to brutal nature. Anger does posi- tive injury to brain, blood and nerves. You are not profitted a bit by exhibiting anger. By repeating an action, a habit is formed in the mind. If you worry yourself frequently, a worrying habit is developed. Your vitality and energy are simply drained by worry, anger, fear. Why should you be afraid of anything at all, when everything is nothing but your own self ? Fear, anger and worry are the products of ignorance. The muscles and nerves of a victim of anger and worry are always under contraction and high tension.
The action of one set of muscles can be checked by the operation of another set of muscles. One impulse may try to put one set of muscles in motion and by sending another repressive impulse through another set of muscles you can counteract the action of the first set of muscles. If a man abuses you, you may jump at once to beat him. An impulse has already put one set of muscles in motion. You may check the impulse through discrimination and reflection: "I do not gain anything by beating him. He is an ignorant man. He does not know how to behave. Let me forgive him now." A repressive impulse will check at once the operation of the first set of muscles by another set of muscles. Raising of impulses and counter-impulses or repressing or inhibitive impulses cause high tension in nerves, muscles and brain. Vast majority of persons are slaves of impulses; hence they do not enjoy peace of mind. They are tossed hither and thither
The science of relaxation is an exact science. It can be learnt very easily. Relaxation of muscles is as much important as contraction of muscles. I lay great emphasis on the relaxation of mind, nerves and muscles. For relaxation Savasana is Prescribed.
Lie down on your back, keep your hands by the side of your thighs with the palms facing upwards. Keep the legs apart without touching one another. Close your eyes.
Concentrate on the toes of both the feet, slightly move them and then relax. Now, mentally disconnect yourself from that part of the body, i.e., give the auto-suggestion: 'Let the toes go from my mind'. Feel that all the toes are completely relaxed. Then concentrate on the heels. The heavy weight of the legs will be resting on them. Relax the heels and relieve them of the weight, and feel they are relaxed. Concentrate on the calf muscles, relax them. Feel that up to the calf muscles both the legs are completely relaxed. Then concentrate on the knees which are nothing but heavy bones. The entire weight of the legs are resting on them. Relax the knees. Now feel that up to the knees both the legs are relaxed. Concentrate on the thighs, heavy muscles and bones and relax both the thighs completely. Then concentrate on the hip, heavy bones and muscles. The entire weight of the body will be resting on them. Relax the hips. Feel that up to the hip, the entire lower parts of the body are completely relaxed. Once you relax a particular part, you should not have any control over that part of the body. Now, concentrate on the vertebral column. The entire weight of the body will be resting on it. Relax the vertebral bones, one by one. Slowly relax up to the neck. Concentrate on the stomach and relax the stomach muscles completely. Feel the slight movement of the abdomen due to slow breathing. Concentrate on the chest. Feel that the entire weight of the chest is resting on the ribs. Relax the ribs and the chest. Breathe slowly and feel the harmonious movement of the lungs. Due to complete relaxation, feel that the entire chest region is becoming very light. Concentrate on the shoulders. The heavy weight of the body will be resting on the back of the shoulders. Relax the shoulders, biceps, elbows, forearms, wrists, palms and fingers. Feel that both the hands are completely relaxed. Now, concentrate on the neck. The heavy weight of the head is resting on the neck. Relax your neck. Slowly turn your head towards the right side. Slowly move it and bring it back to the centre. Turn your head towards the left side and slowly roll it and bring it back to the centre. Relax your neck completely. Concentrate on your head. Relax the head. Concentrate on your face and relax the face muscles. Concentrate on the lips, separate the lips slightly and relax them. Separate the two rows of the teeth and relax them. Just loosen your tongue and then relax it. Gently smile and relax the cheeks. Concentrate on the nostrils, breathe slowly and feel the slight movement of air through the nostrils. Relax the nostrils. Concentrate on the region of the eyes. Slowly and gently open the eyes partially, look at the sky (or roof), and then slowly close your eyes. The eye balls behind the eyelids may be gently directed downwards within. Relax the eyeballs. Let the eyes rest in perfect repose. Relax the eyebrows. Feel that the entire region of the eyes is completely relaxed. Concentrate on the forehead. Forget all other engagements. Have no thoughts in the mind. Feel that the entire forehead is relaxed. Concentrate on the ears. Hear the sound that come without resistance. Do not think of the nature, cause, etc., of the sounds. Be a witness to the sounds. Concentrate on the crown of your head. Feel a slight warmth there at the crown. Relax the head totally. Feel that the heavy weight of the body is resting on the planet earth. Relax your body totally. Breathe gently in and out. Let the diaphragm be relaxed. Feel that the body is becoming lighter and lighter and it is floating in the space, in the ether. Feel also that is nothing but a centre of consciousness moving in space. This is our essential nature. Relax in this pose for a few minutes.
Now, slowly inhale and feel that fresh oxygen is entering and rejuvenating all the parts of the body. Exhale and feel that all the impurities are going out of the body. Once again, inhale and feel that fresh oxygen is entering and rejuvenating all the blood cells of the body; and then exhale and feel that all the impurities are going out.
With a deep inhalation, raise both the hands and place them on the ground above the head. Stretch your body from the toes to the tip of the hands. Turn your entire body from the toes up to the hands towards right, stretch the body and look at the hands. Bring the body back to the original position. Repeat the same process towards the left side. Slowly bring the hands by the side of the thighs. Slowly get up and sit, for a few seconds. Then, stand up on your toes and fully stretch the hands over the head. Slowly bring the hands down and relax. This whole process constitutes Savasana or complete relaxation.
Savasana combines pose and meditation. It gives rest not only for the body but also for the mind and soul. It gives relief, comfort and ease. Relaxation is a very important factor in muscular exercises. In Halasana, Sarvagasana, Paschimottanasana, Dhanurasana and Ardha-Matsyendrasana, you know pretty well that all the muscles of the back, Lettissimus dorsi, Psoasmagnus, Quadratus lumborum, Rectus, abdominis, Pectoralis major of the chest, Biceps, Triceps, the deltoid of the arm, Sartorius of the thighs, are all stretched and contracted to an enormous degree. During intense muscular activity, the metabolism is increased. Metabolism is the Anabolic and Catabolic changes that take place in the body (wear and tear in the system). Anabolic changes are constructive and Catabolic changes are the destructive ones. During metabolism all the muscular tissues are supplied with fresh oxygenated blood or plasma through capillary oozing and carbon dioxide is taken back through the veins to the right auricle of the heart. This is termed tissue-respiration. Just as interchange of oxygen and carbo dioxide takes place in the lungs, so also interchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen takes place in the tissues also. Mark the wonderful creation and working of the internal mechanism of the body! How marvellous is the machinery! Can a scientist make a single atom, a single cell, a single organ of the body? Bow with folded hands before the Creator of this wonderful mechanism of the body. Repeat Om Ram. Enter into silence. Meditate. The whole mystery of creation will be revealed unto you through His Grace.
The muscles that are put under severe strain demand relaxation and rest. It is Savasana that promptly and efficiently ensures complete relaxation and perfect ease.
The pleasant and exhilarating feeling can only be realised by those who can successfully do this Asana. Words cannot adequately describe the feelings. Every one of you should enjoy it. If you are tired from a hard work, perform this Asana for 5 minutes. You will be fit again to continue your hard work with the same vigour. This is a blessing for all hard workers.
If you like, you can practise the relaxation by lying in an easy chair after finishing your Asanas or exercises. Those who know relaxation can take a small nap for ten minutes at any time they like. Busy people, doctors and lawyers should know the science of relaxation. They can relax the mind also and take rest in the waiting rooms of railway stations and bar rooms as well. They will be quite fit for further activity in the courts or the dispensary. Relaxation refreshes a man completely.
Students, journalists, busy lawyers, doctors and businessmen should know the science of mental relaxation. They should practise it also daily. Those who do not possess a knowledge of this science of internal and external relaxation waste their physical and mental energy considerably. Those who practise relaxation can conserve their physical and mental energy and utilise it to their best advantage. Yogis know this science well. They are perfect masters of this useful science. Those who practise relaxation will never experience fatigue. They close their eyes for a few minutes even while standing and get themselves ready for further work. Energy flows in their nerves when they relax just as water flows when the tap is opened.
Relaxation is a very important factor in muscular exercises. In Hala, Sarvanga, Paschimottan, Dhanur and Ardha-Matsyendra Asanas all the muscles of the body are stretched and contracted to an enormous degree. During intense muscular activity, the metabolism is increased. Metabolism is the anabolic and catabolic changes that take place in the body (wear and tear in the system). The muscles that are put under severe strain demand relaxation and rest. It is Savasana that promptly and efficiently ensures complete relaxation and perfect ease.