A little over half-way through the course, the yoga component introduces what are known as poses rather than exercises. Once the relaxation response can be achieved easily, it is possible to use a pose to switch off tension quickly – at home, in the office, or before a sports activity. I know a girl late into childbirth who used the yoga pose Bhadra to relax when she felt exhausted. And I once discovered a young man ‘in Bhadra’ at a medical exhibition; he found it refreshed him and revitalized his interest.
Here I recommend two classic poses – Bhadrasana and Virasana. A more athletic pose – Sarvangasana -may be practised as an optional extra by those athletic enough to enjoy it.
It is always necessary to feel good about relaxation responses. Bhadrasana is practised sitting upright on the floor. The knees are bent and splayed out to their full extent so that they are lowered towards the floor, and the toes and feet touch one another in the mid line. The arms and hands lie relaxed, gently covering the toes. The difficulty to start with will be to lower the knees as far as possible. A certain amount of rocking from side to side will help get the knees nearer to the floor. (Do not try to push them down with your hands.)
Keep the pose for five minutes, increasing to 10 minutes with practise, while concentrating on maintaining pendulum breathing. The eyes remain open and a dismissive attitude of mind is sought. Sometimes a mantra helps at this stage. A point is reached where the stretched and tense tissues complain. As this happens concentrate on the relaxed parts of your body and stay with this feeling.