If you poll a group of yogis, you’ll probably find most of them turn to their practice when looking for ways to relax. Of course, there are many other reasons to practice, but most of us count relaxation among yoga’s benefits.
One reason yoga promotes relaxation is it connects us with our true nature. As yogis know, our true nature is peace. Experiencing ourselves as peaceful beings is certainly an antidote to stress. In other words, when we are in tune with our true selves, we are much more relaxed.
Ways to Relax With Yoga
Practicing yoga for relaxation is obviously different from practicing to build strength, get a workout, or to reach some other goal. There are some things to consider when choosing a class or style of yoga to practice if your goal is finding peace and calm.
Here are a few things to consider when you want your yoga practice to be relaxing:
Practice in a relaxing environment
Ideally, a yoga class in a small, peaceful studio or space in the comfort of your own home will enhance your experience of relaxation. It’s probably not a good idea to practice in a gym or crowded class if you need to relax. Instead, find (or create) a space where the mood is set with candles, incense, essential oils and/or meditative music.
Use Aromatherapy to Enhance Your Practice
If you’re practicing at home, you can choose your own relaxing essential oils to enhance your experience of relaxation. The most popular choice is lavender.
If you have a diffuser, try diffusing some lavender (or other) essential oil during your practice. You can also put the oil in a spray bottle and spray it directly on your mat. Another way to benefit from lavender oil is to put a few drops in your hands and use it to massage your neck, shoulders, or temples.
Other relaxing essential oils include ylang ylang, patchouli, and chamomile. Choose whatever aroma works for you.
Choose gentler classes
A power yoga class or vigorous vinyasa flow may not be the best choice if you want to relax with yoga. Of course, some people do feel relaxed after challenging classes, but most of us can benefit from slowing down when our goal is relaxation.
Here are three slower class types that provide ideal ways to relax with yoga:
1. Gentle Yoga. Most studios offer classes that move at a slower pace. The name of the class is usually a clue. If you see class titles like “slow stretch” or “therapeutic yoga,” for example, you’ve probably found a class designed to help students relax and feel more at peace.
2. Yoga Nidra. Also called “yogic sleep,” yoga nidra is a deeply relaxing practice that is closer to meditation than a physical practice. It is one of the best ways to relax with yoga. Yoga nidra classes typically combine with very gentle movements with long periods of guided meditation.
3. Restorative Yoga. Another very relaxing practice, restorative yoga uses props for support to help you hold the poses longer.
If you rush to class or feel rushed during class, you’ll have a much harder time relaxing. It’s a great idea, if you can, to decide ahead of time when you’ll practice. If you’re traveling to a studio for class, give yourself extra time to get there so you can set up your space and start the practice without a racing heart.
Meditation, particularly the type that focuses on the repetition of a mantra, is also one of the best ways to relax. There are many peace mantras, both in English and in Sanskrit.
If you need some yoga-related ways to relax at home, you’ll find yoga for stress relief, meditation, and more on the Track Yoga app. Check it out, and let us know how calm you feel!