The difference between various forms of yogic relaxation. You can then take up what suits you
Many people turn to yoga for stress relief and freedom from anxiety and tension. However, they often don’t have proper understanding of the purpose and intent of each asana, so they tend to mistake relaxation asanas for meditation and vice versa!
Yogic relaxation is different from ordinary relaxation. Specific yoga asanas help release tension from different muscle groups of the body. Their practice gives a calm and centred feeling to the body and mind. Other modes of relaxation could involve watching TV after a long day at work, unwinding by listening to music or attending a spiritual discourse, eating comfort foods like pizza, getting a body massage, or just lying down. But yogic relaxation has a more lasting effect than ordinary relaxation.
Concentration is about staying at one point. You don’t allow the mind to wander. You have to be relaxed, fully present and focused on an activity or object. You start moving from the outer to the inner world. Your energy or prana converges at one point, resulting in stronger will power and intention. Perfecting the art of ‘concentration’ is the first step towards the ultimate stage.
The Ultimate stage
Finally, you move past relaxation and concentration to reach a no-mind, no-body state. Here you transcend beyond the single point focus of concentration. You transcend thought processes and reach nothingness or completeness. Your journey here is completely inward. It is an absolute state of awareness and alertness; you become a witness to everything, even to your own self. You learn to witness thoughts, emotions and sound arising in your awareness within and around you. The results of this form of relaxation, termed ‘meditation’ are lifelong. In a state of relaxation, you use the least energy. It is a good place to be and far better than being in the ordinary state of mind which is chaotic. Concentration is a leap from relaxation to directing all the energy to a singular point. Finally, you reach the ultimate point the mind can reach. This keeps you in present time and you leave the past and future behind to become a ‘totality’. At this stage, you have clarity of mind, appeasement of anxiety and higher satisfaction compared to relaxation.