Yoga Can Give the Best Relaxation You’ve Ever Felt

What’s your favourite yoga asana? For many people, Savasana is the winner.

It’s so popular you can even buy clothing that announces your love of Savasana with sayings like “I’m just here for the Savasana” or “I do Yoga, as long as it’s Savasana.”

Savasana is much more than just lying down, and it’s definitely not sleeping. It can be an entire and complete practice in itself.

Savasana as Asana

In Savasana, you’re lying on your back with legs apart, toes falling apart, arms away from the body, palms facing up, eyes closed. It’s like any other yoga pose in that it can also be modified for those who find it physically challenging.

Practising Savasana is not as easy as it looks, especially if you accidently fall asleep! Remain steady without moving in the pose, relax, breath slowly and deeply, and be aware of what is happening in your body.

Benefits of Savasana

In Savasana, the floor fully supports the body so that the muscles can release tension. It’s easier to breathe deeply when lying down; your blood pressure is reduced and the nervous system is calm.

For benefits of asanas to be felt, practitioners need to stay in a pose for a minimum of about four minutes. As the physical challenge of Savasana is quite low, it is easy to stay in Savasana for this period, even for complete beginners.

Your body can relax, but what about your mind? By turning your attention to sensations of the breath, your mind has a chance to slow down and relax. But try to not fall asleep – after all, it is a Yoga pose!

Physical and mental relaxation are important for our health. When both the body and the mind are able to relax, you can relax completely. In this state, your body is more readily able to heal itself.

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra is a method of deep, guided relaxation practiced while in Savasana. It’s a yogic technique with ancient roots. In his book Yoga Nidra, Swami Satyananada describes it as “a method of inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation.”

Yoga Nidra can be practiced from 10-60 minutes or even longer. With regular practice, you’ll feel the depth of healing and increased consciousness. Yoga Nidra has been shown to positively affect physical and mental health issues caused by stress, including PTSD.

Given how fast modern life now goes, it’s important to give ourselves the time and space to slow down. Often we think of physically resting but, quite often, our minds are what really need this rest.

Savasana is a wonderful posture because it has some amazing benefits and can be done by everyone. So, lie in Savasana for at least a few minutes each day and rest your body and mind. It’s the best kind of relaxation you can give yourself.

Twisting Your Way to Good Health

What do you do to feel good? There’s lots of things that we do; some are good for us and some are awesome for us.

Just like a good nap, a good twist is good for you and can feel really great during and afterward!

Twisting Safely to Good Health

If we’re going to twist to feel good, then we must make sure we twist safely! There’s many different yoga asanas which incorporate twists. Take these pointers into consideration to help you keep yourself safe.

Your spine is composed of many different small vertebrae. Lengthening your spine before and during the twist will help increase the amount of space between each vertebra, giving it room to move.

Start your twist by lengthening your spine. Think of growing taller or longer, from your sacrum all the way up to the top of your head.

To maintain a long spine as you twist, it’s helpful to anchor one end as you rotate from the other end. If you’re doing a sitting twist, stabilize your sit bones on the floor or chair. If you’re doing a standing twist, ground your feet. In both cases, start the twist from the upper back and neck.

If you’re lying down, anchor your shoulders on the floor. Rotate your knee to one side, letting the hips and then the rest of the spine follow. Don’t forget to turn your head to the other side so your entire spine gets the twist.

Lastly, go slow and gently so you can listen to your body and all of the sensations that take place as you twist. Use your breath to slow things down. Inhale as you lengthen your spine, and exhale to twist, and continue slow deep breathing as your body settles in.

Health Benefits of Twists

Now that we’re twisting safely, we can look at some of the benefits of practicing twists within our yoga practice.

When twisting, physical pressure is placed on the internal organs. They are gently massaged and wrung out, much like a washcloth. Old or stagnant blood is pushed out, and when the twist is released, fresh blood fills the organs. This helps to cleanse and detoxify the body naturally.

This physical pressure is also felt in the digestive system. The intestines are filled with nooks and crannies and sometimes food and gas can get stuck. Bloating, constipation, and a sluggish digestion can all be improved with regular twisting.

Many of us have felt back pain or are guilty of poor posture. With proper asana practice aimed at lengthening the spine, pressure is relieved from the vertebral discs while excess curves in the spine can be rebalanced to relieve discomfort.

Yoga feels good and can help our physical bodies heal and bring a better quality of life. Through a safe asana practice that includes twists, our bodies can work better and become more balanced. Twist daily and repeat on the other side!

Am I Doing Yoga Right?

We’ve all felt it before. Perhaps it’s a new posture, or you’re new to yoga, and you have no idea if you’re doing it right. How can you make sure?

Take it back to the Beginning

Many people started yoga with drop-in classes or from a video; in doing so, they missed feedback from a teacher. This feedback and attention is important so that each student can learn in a supported environment and at an appropriate pace.

The traditional way of learning yoga was from a guru (teacher) in the Gurukula system, where students would live with their teacher, learning progressively about the philosophy, theory, and practice of yoga.

This is unrealistic for most people, but whether you’re a seasoned yogi or relatively new, it never hurts to take a step back and attend a beginner’s course. You’ll learn the basics and progress from easier exercises and poses to more challenging ones, and pick up some new things.

Having the same teacher over a period of time means personalized instruction and feedback based on where you are at that point in time. This attention is invaluable and will set you on the right path for your journey.

Update your Asana Practice

From a physical perspective, it’s important to practice in a way that gently challenges us and doesn’t cause any pain or strain. Awareness is a key element of yoga and guidance from a teacher can help you build awareness.

Since the goal of yoga is to know yourself better, you must really pay attention. Move slowly so you can observe the sensations in your body, notice if there are any changes in your breath, and be aware of the thoughts that go through your mind.

Injury can happen suddenly, but it can also happen slowly through time by pushing too hard for too long. Observing the subtle sensations in your body is critical in preventing these types of injuries.

Shift your weight, reposition yourself, relax a muscle, or take rest; by listening to the body instead of the mind, you can do what is right at that particular moment in time.

Being aware of your body and surroundings, you’ll also be able to incorporate instructions given by the teacher. Your teacher provides insight into things you’re not aware of. Ever notice how the teacher repeats the same instructions over and over again? What if the instructions were actually for you?

The Never-Ending Journey

Regular practice is important. Sporadic practice is tough on the body and the mind often gets too excited when getting back into the practice. In order to know how you really feel, it takes time and training to settle the mind and get the body to good condition.

Practicing regularly allows you to compare how you feel from one session to another. In this way you’ll discover what works and what doesn’t work. Through long periods of practice, you also become aware of yoga’s subtle effects and how it affects your mental and emotional state.

Keep up with both a home practice and classes so that you can get the best of both worlds. Focus your mind and pay attention to what happens physically and mentally when you practice. Without consciousness, it’s not yoga, it’s just exercise.

Overcome Jet Lag with Yoga

Travel to far away places brings excitement and adventures. Jet lag and travel exhaustion can be a temporary damper to new experiences. Building on your regular yoga practice will help you adapt to your new surroundings more quickly.

Pre-Travel Preparation

Preparation is key! With packing, planning, and anxiety of finishing everything up, the days before leaving can be stressful! Keeping up with your regular yoga and meditation practice also helps to keep you mentally balanced.

High levels of stress impacts your immune system, so try to stick to your regular bedtime schedule. Getting sufficient, good quality sleep is the best way to keep yourself from getting sick at the beginning of your journey.

During Travel

The long journey begins and you’ll (hopefully!) reach your destination soon. Start changing your body clock by sleeping according to the new time zone.

Being confined to a small space with your body stuck in a static position seems to be the norm when traveling. Whenever you have the opportunity to move about, do so, even if it’s just for a few seconds or minutes.

When the body stays still for long periods, blood circulation slows and the muscles become stiff. Get up, stretch, move your back, arms, and legs to get blood flowing. Walk, do some asanas, or modified asanas where possible.

Even if you’re stuck in the middle seat of an airplane, moving is still possible. Pointing and flexing the feet works the lower body and improves circulation. Make rolling circles with the neck, and then your shoulders. Arching and rounding the back helps release tension.

Reaching one arm up and over to the other side stretches the side of the torso. Depending on your flexibility, you might get a leg up toward the ceiling to stretch the hamstrings. To finish, breathing exercises (pranayama like Kapalabhati and Anuloma Viloma) will help increase blood and oxygen circulation to your entire body.

Arriving to a New Adventure

You’ve arrived at last and you’re so tired your eyelids refuse to open.

As much as you may want to stay awake to get over the jet lag quickly, remember to be gentle with yourself. Don’t throw away the awareness and acceptance you work so hard to cultivate practising yoga and meditation.

Perhaps you can to take advantage of your jet lag – some experiences only take place at times of the day which normally seem crazy, so embrace where you are and what is happening.

When you finally do awake, it can be really difficult! Rouse yourself just like after savasana. Breathe a little deeper, bring your mind to your body, wiggle your fingers and toes, and then give yourself a big stretch!

If you’re really feeling sluggish, do a few very slow rounds of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations) to chase the Tamas (lethargy) out. Practicing this while facing the sun is best as the light helps adjust your inner clock quicker.

Listen to your body when it signals that you desperately need sleep. Balancing your needs (to sleep) and desires (to be awake) is a delicate yet important endeavour.

A gentle, consistent yoga practice will help your body energize and get back into its routine in your new time zone. Breathe and enjoy the experience!

Should I Go to Yoga Class?

This question has surely come up in your mind many times. Maybe you were feeling tired, going to be late for class, or planned to practice on your own. We’ve all been there when the question comes up, should I go to yoga class?

Synergy in Group Practice

The concept of synergy definitely applies to Sadhana, or spiritual practice, when a group of people get together.

Negative thoughts and feelings can feel bigger when you’re on your own. Having people around you who do the same practice gives support, helping you find your inner strength mentally and physically to maintain your practice.

On your own, you might only do half of your practice compared to doing more if you were in a group setting. The group energy helps lift your own to be more strong and positive.

A Balanced Practice

If you’ve been practicing for a long time already and know what to do and what your body needs, you might feel that you’d have a better practice on your own. Your personal practice does feel really wonderful. You can go at your own pace depending where your body feels tight.

These are some really good reasons why self-practice on your own can be appropriate. Still, there are good reasons to attend a yoga class.

One good reason is that you’re human. You’re wired to seek out things which feel good and avoid those that don’t. You likely do less of certain asanas because of your body’s limitations, they’re challenging, or you simply don’t like them.

Sometimes the things you avoid are the very things that you might need, and doing more of what feels good exacerbates our imbalances. So doing the things that you don’t want to do is exactly what is needed. It might take a while (maybe even years!) before your feelings about those practices change.

A Hard Look Inside

When you don’t make it to class, you likely rationalize your choice with various reasons. Do you notice that the same reasons keep popping up? Does that same reason pop up in other situations? If you take a hard look, you may see patterns show up in different areas of your life.

Why do you avoid certain practices, and why do you veer toward others? Are you able to bring an unbiased view on what’s happening inside you at these times? Through such inquiry, you can understand yourself better and continue growing spiritually. Yoga is all about getting to know yourself, after all.

Remember, you started practicing yoga because you needed change. You continued because it feels good to practice. The effects of your yoga practice linger, but they aren’t permanent.

Keep practicing to maintain your overall good health. If you find yourself rationalizing why you should skip the next class, dig a little deeper. You’ll probably regret not going, so give yourself a little push and go to class! You know you’ll feel good afterward.

Give yourself a break, cultivate compassion with yoga

Hello there beautiful soul, how are you? It hasn’t been easy, has it? You’re doing such a great job. Keep it up!

Wouldn’t it be so awesome if someone said this to you every day? It feels good to be acknowledged for the hard work and effort we put in to life every day. It feels good to know that someone believes in us. Having ourselves validated with compassion is a basic human need for recognition.

But what does yoga have to do with compassion? Dive in to see how both yoga asanas and yoga philosophy can help expand the compassion you have within yourself.


In the process of practicing yoga asanas, what happens in your mind? Is your mind wandering away or racing about? Do you wonder how much longer it will be? Are you holding your breath?

What happens in your mind is an important part of yoga asanas. Stillness in the mind is much more challenging than stillness in the body, but both are a large part of the practice.

When your mind is not racing about, when it is calm, you’re able to be aware of the nature and quality of your thoughts instead of getting caught up in them. You’ll notice if your thoughts toward yourself are kind and encouraging; you’ll be better attuned to those moments when you’re hard on yourself or put yourself down.


Now that you’re attuned to what is happening within, do you accept what is happening? Or are you resisting the situation?

Your body will tell you if you’re accepting it or resisting it. Your self-awareness of your reaction will guide you mentally, physically, and emotionally.

If you resist, your nervous system becomes activated to fight whatever you’re resisting. You’ll feel increases in heart rate, shallow breathing, tightness in the abdomen, high mental alertness, and anxiousness.

These are all signs that you’re fighting. This can happen even if you’re simply sitting still in meditation!

To help release the resistance, breathe consciously, steadily, slowly, and deeply. Within a few breaths, you’ll begin to steady the nervous system. Actively releasing the tension in the body will also help.


Compassion is the action we take to support empathy. It can be in the form of words spoken aloud or inside your mind. It can be in the form of action, such as when we treat ourselves gently and with love and care.

When we accept what is happening, when we stop resisting, we can consciously make a decision to be compassionate. Acceptance doesn’t mean that no further action takes place! It means you can see where things with you truly are and decide what steps to take next.

Compassion is a multi-step process. This process can occur so quickly it often seems like a single step, but when you find it hard to find compassion within, go through the steps so you can get there.

When we practice compassion with ourselves, we better extend compassion to others because we know how to do it.

Yoga & the Courageous Warrior in You

The act of waking up each morning should be a wonderful, joyous event. It’s a new day, new journey, and new chance at life.

But sometimes we may not look forward to the day. Can yoga help make a difference?

It sure can – yoga can help you transform yourself into a courageous warrior!

Asanas for Courage

Asana practice is amazing for so many reasons – one is that it can help you find the courage you have within yourself and nurture it to grow.

There are specific poses believed to help increase our confidence. The asanas inherently help increase courage. In addition, working on challenging asanas helps us extrapolate into the rest of our life to believe that other situations can also be mastered.

A few examples are Matsyendrasana (Fish), Bhujangasana (Cobra), or Sirsasana (Headstand). These courage-building asanas are about creating and overcoming challenging experiences while not allowing the mind and its chatter (usually fear) to stop us.

Those afraid of hurting themselves may be intimidated by these poses. These poses are usually safe when the practitioner is mindful and takes things step by step.

If you feel the need for more precaution, preparatory stretches or exercises will strengthen the muscles and help to increase self-confidence.

Fear has its roots in truth, but courage is acknowledging fear and deciding not to let our fears stop us from experiencing life to the fullest.

Change is the only constant

Courage is not the sole ingredient needed for success.

Sustained effort is one of the most important elements of success. Persevering even when progress is elusive can be discouraging.

It’s often said that the only constant is change. Even when it seems that things aren’t changing, if you examine your situation closely, you’ll realize that progress is occurring even if it only takes the guise of change.

The reality is that you have learned something about yourself, the process, what is or isn’t working. Things may have even gotten ever so slightly easier.

This objective non-judgemental observation of self and our situation is the same type of observation used during asana and meditation practice.

Be in the present

From the moment we open our eyes in the morning until our heads hit the pillow, we are pulled to “do” something. The world tells us we need to do more, try harder, push further.

Sometimes this demand for action is absolutely needed; sometimes it’s absolutely false. As human “beings,” not human “doings,” sometimes we just need to be, and be in the present moment.

When we are 100% in the present moment, we naturally take things one moment at a time. Things can seem daunting if instead we look at the end goal.

Taking things one step at a time makes things more manageable, more realistic, and less overwhelming. In that context less courage is needed to take one small step.

Go gentle and slow, step-by-step in your life and you’ll get there in time. Your confidence is growing. Your courage is growing. Change is happening. You’ll arrive at just the right time.

Using Yoga to Help Let Go the Past

We’ve all had experiences that are not so pleasant and we want to leave behind. Other times, we need to leave them behind in order to move forward.

Your yoga practice can help you let go of the past and get back into a fresh space in the present.

Experiences stay with us

Each experience is a building block of who we are. These experiences help us grow. Every night, our brains process what happened during day. It gets rid of unimportant experiences and transfers others to long-term memory.

Pleasant experiences are quite nice to replay, but unpleasant experiences can feel as stinging and intense as when they happened originally. Repressing these to avoid the pain from happening again prevents us from processing and healing.

Memories are also stored in the body, like muscles and organs. Yoga can help us let go of these experiences so that we can truly move forward.

Experience the past in the present

As we breathe slowly and deeply through the nose, our mind stays connected to the body in the present moment. When you think about past experiences, you may find yourself transported back in time. It feels real even though you’re not actually there.

Slow yogic breathing can help us stay grounded, so that we are not pulled back into the past. Notice how you feel in your body. Are your palms getting sweaty, your abdomen tensing, breath quickening?

Come back to slow deep breathing and mentally repeat grounding phrases. Try your favourite mantra or remind yourself that you are safe, or you’re not in the past anymore.

Release the past from the body

Holding stretches and twists can release experiences and emotions stored in the body. You may have experienced this before, feeling an emotional release or memories flooding back to you while you were practicing yoga.

Unfortunately, you can’t force these releases to happen and there’s no real way to know when it will happen. They usually come unexpectedly, so when it does, don’t get scared and repress them. Allow your emotions to come fully.

If you’re in a yoga class, know that this is a beautiful and special moment. Most yogis appreciate emotional releases and will be supportive of you.

Continue with your asana practice if you can. If it feels overwhelming, breathe slow and deep. Take a break lying in savasana or on your side.

After the release, take it easy for the rest of the day and nurture yourself with a nap, a warm herbal tea, or a soothing bath. Processing and releasing experiences requires energy and compassion.

Holding on or repressing emotions can be heavy emotional baggage we bring everywhere we go. Yoga can help you work through it with more ease and calm. Letting go can be scary but, once you do, you’ll feel lighter and freer to be who you were meant to be.

Sneak in Some Yoga While at Work

You spend a lot of time at work. You probably do the same things day in, day out: sitting, typing, lifting, standing.

With just a few easy steps, you can prevent temporary muscle aches and pains from becoming chronic.

Here’s a few ways you can sneak in some yoga at work. You’ll be in a better mood, more focused, and less stressed!

Slow is More with Breathing

With each breath, you have a choice. You can breathe in the air you need just to survive, or you can breathe to feel calm, cool, and collected!

You need just 30 seconds to 1-2 minutes to feel better.

Bring your gaze downward to be inconspicuous or close your eyes if possible. Soften your jaw, shoulders, and abdomen.

On your first breath, breathe slowly in through the nose and inflate your lungs to your maximum. Stretch your ribcage wide, feel the air travel deep into your body as if filling your belly and entire torso.

Exhale slowly through the nose, consciously releasing held tension in the body. With subsequent breaths, inhale to 80% or a comfortable amount.

Do this at least 3 times to melt tension away. If you can do this for 10 to 20 or even more breaths, you will feel better.

Yoga at Work

Reach up, up, up, in a standing position for 5 seconds to stretch the whole body. Do this sitting and you’ll get a half body stretch. Feel free to do this between each of the following asanas.

Stretching helps to increase body awareness while temporarily relaxing and relieving tension. Focus on bodily sensations and breathing while doing each asana for 1-3 minutes each.

Quickie Yoga Sequence

In Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend, you’ll get a forward bend, inversion, and balance all in one posture!

Slowly and gently, roll down until you’re folded in half at the hips. Let go as much as you can. Roll back up just as slowly.

Stretch your ribs in a modified Fish (Matsyendrasana). Interlace the fingers behind the back and reach to the floor, lift the chest to open up the sternum, and tilt the head upward.

Do the full Trikonasana (Triangle) if your clothing/space allows. Or simply reach one arm up and bend the body over to the opposite side. Repeat on the other side.

Keep your spine healthy with a spinal twist either standing against the wall or sitting in a chair. Straighten and lengthen the spine, then twist from the hips to the head. Repeat on the other side.

Rest and relax in chair savasana to end this quickie yoga sequence.

Tension in the Body

Doing the same thing for hours, weeks, or years creates imbalances in the body as some parts stiffen up or become tenser, while others remain relaxed. If you had perfect control, you could will your muscles to relax, but most people can only control a few muscles in the body this way.

Tension in the body can build like a pressure cooker. Doing this simplified yoga practice is a quick release; a regular yoga practice will help release tension more completely.

3 Ways Exercise and Yoga Asanas are Different

Look at images of people doing yoga asanas; their bodies are awe-inspiring and incredible works of art with strength, balance, and flexibility. Yoga can be a great way to get fit, but exercising and yoga are different in nature.

Effects on the Body

Exercise is great for the body. A few of these benefits include improvements in body composition (increasing muscle tone and decreasing fat) and cardiovascular efficiency.

Yoga is great for increasing strength, flexibility, balance, mental calm, and reducing stress. Holding yoga asanas is where much of the benefits are reaped. Internal organs are balanced and flushed through gentle massage. Energetic points closely mirroring acupressure points are stimulated, which helps open up sluggish areas and increase energy.

Wear and Tear on the Body

Modern exercise can be tough on the physical body. A common method of building muscle is to push the body to the point of muscle fatigue or even past that point. This intentional stress and strain on the muscles creates micro-tears in the muscles.

The muscles grow stronger and bigger because of the repairs the body makes to the muscles. This is additional work for the body as it continually has to repair itself each time exercise is performed!

With yoga, the practitioner is encouraged to listen to the body, gently exercising so that the body doesn’t get to the point of fatigue or over exertion. Resting in Savasana between each exercise or asana further ensures that the body is never under duress. The body gradually increases endurance, flexibility, balance, and strength without the extra strain.

The After Effect

After a tough workout, how does your body feel? You might feel great, alive, and ready to go! Working out causes physical stress, so adrenalin helps deliver extra energy so you’re ready to take whatever challenge is ahead.

After a few hours, the adrenalin subsides and you feel tired. The body is fatigued and needs to rest to repair itself.

After practising yoga asanas with long holding of the postures, resting between each, and with a final relaxation at the end, you’ll feel great – alive and energized, yet calm and peaceful.

After a few hours, you’ll still feel great, and you’ll likely feel you have more energy than before and even after practising asanas! Why? Asanas help to circulate the energy in the body, clearing out blockages so everything runs more smoothly.

Working out is good for the body but yoga can work on the internal organs and energetic channels to give benefits that exercise cannot. Science is only starting to provide evidence for these deeper benefits of yoga asanas that yogis have known for centuries.

A regular yoga practise is a gentle, yet highly effective way to improve the body and soul.