Learn how to relax or let go/release physical, mental and emotional tension

Relaxation of the body and the mind comes before the attempt of developing the skill, strength and flexibility to perform the yoga exercises or yoga poses.

The physical, mental and emotional tension existing in the body and mind are mainly due to egoism and ungratified desires of coming in contact with the objects of name and form that the mind doesn’t like/doesn’t want and not coming in contact with the objects of name and form that the mind likes/wants, as well as accumulated from an imbalanced lifestyle of overly inactive/sedentary/idle or overly active/busy/restless way of life.

If one doesn’t know how to relax or let go all these accumulated tension while attempting to perform the yoga asana exercises or poses with the intention or expectation to be developing the physical strength and flexibility and the skill to do the poses, it’s not going to work efficiently.

When there are unnecessary tension existing in the body and the mind while doing the yoga asana practice:-

  • The entire learning process of the mind and the body as well as the overall effect of the physical and mental practice/training will be less efficient.
  • The mind is unable to focus which will be affecting the learning process and inattentiveness/cloudiness will lead to higher risk of accident and injury.
  • The muscles/tendons/ligaments/joints/nerves/vital organs that are in a state of tension will be affecting the development of physical health, fitness, strength and flexibility and will lead to higher risk of injury, as well as influencing the mind being unable to be open towards the teachings or philosophy of yoga that might be different from or contradicted to the existing thinking and belief in the mind.
  • The tensed body can’t really absorb the effect of the practice/training efficiently/properly/entirely even though the effect of the practice/training is present during and/or after the practice/training.
  • Tensed mind and body is deeply related to higher risk of physical and mental illness as well as broken relationships, destructive behavior and social problems, not excluding ‘yoga enthusiast’.
  • The tensed mind cannot function/think/act and react properly/healthily and easily gets confused/disturbed/intimidated by all kinds of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses from moment to moment, and eventually losing sanity, or being unable to look after the well-being of oneself, or to live life independently, not excluding ‘yoga practitioner’ and ‘yoga teacher’.

That’s why the initial relaxation of the body and the mind in the beginning of the yoga asana practice, is very important/crucial, even before the warming-up exercises, to allow the body to be able to develop the skill, strength and flexibility efficiently and safely in a relaxed manner, as well as to allow the body to be absorbing the effect of the practice/training to the maximum, but more important, is to allow the mind to be able to be relaxed/open to inquire the truth of the teachings or philosophy of yoga that are not necessarily likable or agreeable to the mind that has been conditioned to think in certain ways and believe in certain beliefs that are different from the teachings or philosophy of yoga.

Relaxation of the body and mind should be the very first practice/learning/training for people who want to learn and practice yoga even before learning to do the basic yoga poses or guided breathing exercises. Such like simple abdominal breathing of slowing down the inhalation and exhalation in a relaxed manner without strain for a few minutes, and then moving the awareness from point to point in the physical body to be aware of any existing tension and let go the tension consciously, and bringing the mind into the present moment to be aware of the reality as it is, without craving or aversion. Without rushing into the yoga asana practice routine, without any expectation, the tension existing in the mind and body will be less intense and eventually dissolved/vanished, naturally.

The yoga asana practice of doing the yoga exercises or yoga poses are supposed to be helping the practitioner to relax the body and mind, or helping the body and mind to let go or release as much as possible all the unnecessary tensions that has been building up in everyday life, provided if the yoga asana practice is being done under a relaxed manner without strain/force with the correct understanding of the core teachings of yoga. It’s not building up more unnecessary tension into the body and mind during the yoga asana practice due to being unable to be relaxed while doing the practice by constantly straining or forcing the body to go beyond its imitation with intention/expectation to make it more strong and flexible in order to do some of the yoga poses that the mind wants to be able to do, due to the lack of correct understanding towards the core teachings of yoga.

The proper way of developing physical strength is not about building up more tightness/tension in the muscles groups of the physical body. Real strength comes from free-flow of sufficient energy supply and efficient/healthy function of the motor neurons and bio mechanism. If one of the nerves that connect the central nervous system to one of the muscles group doesn’t function properly, this part of the muscles group can’t function properly, even though the physical body has gone through intense and prolonged strength training and the muscles group is well-toned. A well-toned or tight/tensed muscles group cannot move or lift something, if there’s no proper sufficient energy supply to that area.

More important, the yoga practice is not about training/making the body more strong and flexible, as peace, compassion and the ability to forgive and let go what the mind perceives/recognizes as ‘negative’, ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, ‘hurtful, ‘sorrowful’ or ‘terrible’, is nothing to do with the physical condition/strength/flexibility. One doesn’t need to be physically ‘strong’ and ‘flexible’ or super healthy, to realize yoga, peace and compassion, or be forgiving and be able to let go.

While applying the teachings or philosophy of yoga practically in everyday life will help the practitioner to stop generating or accumulating as minimum as possible unnecessary physical, mental and emotional tension. It is what yoga practice is about – purification of the mind through the elimination of egoism.

This is similar to the final relaxation in the end of the yoga asana practice. It’s not just about to relax the body and mind after some physical and mental training, but it’s about non-attachment and non-identification towards all our actions/practice and renounce the fruit of action/practice or letting go the expectation towards the result of action/practice. This will bring the body and mind into effective deep relaxation under any condition or situation in life. Relaxation is indeed the elimination of egoism of the practice of non-attachment, non-identification, non-judgment, non-expectation, non-craving, non-aversion, and letting go. The body and mind is unable to be relaxed and constantly being in a state of tension is due to the egoism of attachment, identification, judgment, expectation, craving and aversion, and being unable/reluctant to let go or forgive.

People might confuse ‘the practice of relaxation or the ability to let go/be relaxed/calmed’ with the practice/idea/belief of positive thinking or optimism. Positive thinking or optimism doesn’t necessarily mean that the mind is relaxed/calmed or being free from the desire of craving and aversion, and be undisturbed/undetermined by what the impure mind perceives as ‘negative’, ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, ‘hurtful’, ‘sorrowful’, ‘disgusting’ or ‘terrible’. Positive thinking or optimism doesn’t correlate with the understanding/ability to accept the reality that is not necessarily the way that we like it to be, as it is, but more likely, it’s ignoring or denying the ‘negative’ undesirable reality that the mind doesn’t like and doesn’t want, and desiring/hoping to change the undesirable reality into something else that it is not, and expecting desires/wishes come true by trying to think and feel positively or optimistically. The mind is not free yet.

Be free.


The function of memory and the existence of ‘I’

The existence of ‘I’ is very much influenced by the function of memory to remember all or some of the relationships and experiences with everyone and the objects of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses, and the accumulated knowledge and skills through remembering all its learning and training from the past till the present, with all kinds of imagination, anticipation, speculation, projection and expectation, plus all the thought activities of pleasant and unpleasant reactions of feelings and emotions towards all the good and bad, desirable and undesirable experiences.

If the mind couldn’t remember certain experiences in the past, it won’t relate itself with those experiences and will have no identification with those experiences. At some points, the mind might confuse some wild imaginations and the dreams that it remembers as part of the life experiences that it thinks it experienced in life. Under the function of memory, most of the time, the mind doesn’t remember things exactly as they were. A lot of the details of the memories are doubtful and confused. And the ego attached onto these blurred memories of the past to be identifying as ‘I’, and judges itself and everyone and everything based on these memories.

If the function of memory doesn’t exist, or the mind couldn’t recall all that it perceived of what it saw/heard/smelled/tasted/felt/thought/knew/acknowledged/learned/experienced/practiced/acted/reacted/acquired/possessed, or what it liked and didn’t like towards all the perceived names and forms, there’s no remembrance of an existence or identification of ‘I’ and any relationships with anyone in the present. Whatever was being processed in the mind wasn’t being stored as a conscious memory to be recall into the present, though there will be subtle imprints of all the present reactions of craving and aversion towards all the perceptions of names and forms being stored in the subconscious mind where all these subtle imprints of craving and aversion would bubble up to the surface of the conscious mind during the deep mind purification process, when the mind stops reacting with craving and aversion towards all the perceptions in the present.

Without memory storage of what it perceives through the senses and what is being processed through the thinking faculty, the mind won’t remember a continuous/permanent identity that attached onto some qualities of names and forms that comes with certain accumulated knowledge, experiences and relationships with everyone to be identifying as “This is what I was/am from the past till now.” This mind won’t be influenced by any particular ethnic and social background, culture, knowledge, idea, practice, thinking, belief, or learning, to apply any judgment, comparison, or expectation that based on the memories of past experiences of accumulated knowledge, ideas, beliefs, actions and reactions towards all the mind perceptions of names and forms in this existence now, such like, “I had this before. This was good, I liked this. I want this again.” or “I had that before. That was bad, I didn’t like that. I don’t want that again.”

Even though there might be spontaneous reaction of craving or aversion towards the mind perception of names and forms in the present now, but then, the mind won’t be able to remember this experience and its reaction of craving and aversion towards this experience. All experiences will appear to be something new or unknown to it. The desire of craving and aversion on the conscious level are very much influenced by the memories of the past pleasant and unpleasant experiences. “I experienced this before or I know this, I remember either I had liked this and I want this again (craving), or I didn’t like this and I don’t want this again (aversion).” Meanwhile, the subtle desires of craving and aversion that continuously bubble up to the surface of the conscious mind which the memoryless mind doesn’t remember or doesn’t know what they are or where they come from, but somehow there are ceaseless reaction of craving and aversion towards all the names and forms being generated due to these subtle imprints of desires.

If the mind developed awareness towards the existence of these subtle desires of craving and aversion, without attachment towards these desires or identification with them, or it is uninfluenced by these existing subtle desires to generate more reactions of craving and aversion, this mind is free.

That’s why for those who take seriously in the path of yoga and meditation, the practice of renunciation and seclusion, reducing and restricting mind inputs of all sorts, or the contact with objects of names and forms, or social interactions and activities in the world, is a very important observation to minimize and restrict the accumulation of subtle imprints of under current desires even if the mind has no awareness or memories of all its reactions of craving and aversion towards all the perceptions of names and forms.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their worldly life existence of the impermanent and selfless body and mind.

For those who are absolutely okay with the impermanent and selfless function of the body and mind, who are free from clinging and craving towards good condition and free from aversion towards bad condition, and aren’t disturbed or determined by all kinds of suffering in the world of names and forms that derived from ignorance and egoism and impurities, they don’t need to practice yoga and meditation, as they are free as they are.

Be free.

During yoga practice session – non-attachment and letting go

Initial relaxation practice for the body and the mind – non-attachment & letting go

Stay focus and pay attention onto where we are, how we are and what we are doing at the present moment now. Letting go of the past and the future.

The most present thing is our breath. Be aware of the inhalation and the exhalation, without judgment whether the breath is slow or fast. Without comparing each breath. Without expectation towards the result or what benefits are we going to get from observing the breath. Letting go of judgment, comparison and expectation.

This will become a new habit for the mind to be able to let go of the past instantly from moment to moment, in our everyday life, not just during the yoga practice session. This will train the mind to let go of the habits that like to judge, to compare and to expect.

All our actions are intention-less, surrendering the fruit of action. Non-identification as the doer of the action. All actions are nameless and formless.

If the mind wanders to the past or the future, we bring the mind concentrate back onto the present moment on the breath, patiently. Knowing that it is the habit of the mind that it doesn’t like to stay focus at one point for a long time. It is the characteristic of the mind to jump from one thought to another thought unceasingly. Be very patient with the mind. Not judging the mind as something bad or negative. The mind is just being what it is. It is neither good nor bad. It is neither negative nor positive. We don’t have to attach to the mind and just observe the mind as it is.

Be aware of the movement of the abdomen as we inhale and exhale. The abdomen relax during inhalation, and it contracts during exhalation.

If at this present moment now, the mind is agitated, not calm, then we can control the breath to influence the energy or the prana, which will influence the state of the mind. We can slow down the breathing, prolong the exhalation to help to calm down the body, the energy and the mind.

By the chanting of Om will also help to calm down the mind. Beside the powerful sound vibration of Om that will stimulate and purify the energy centres and to chanel the energy for higher spiritual purposes, chanting of Om is also one of the pranayama that is controlling the breath especially during the exhalation, which can give calming effect to the mind. When the mind is calm and relaxed, then allow the breathing to be natural, and continue to observe the breath as it is.

If at this present moment now, the mind is calm and relaxed, then allow the breathing to be natural, just be aware, observe the natural breath as it is without interference, or to control or to change the breathing pattern.

By observing the breath as it is, we are learning to observe the nature as it is, observing the reality or the truth as it is, observing the present moment as it is, observing the world as it is, observing everything as it is, observing everyone as it is, observing the body and the mind as it is, observing ourselves as we are. Being aware that at this present moment now, this is the condition of our body, this is the condition of our mind, this is what our body can do and cannot do, this is where we are and how we are. And most important is, to accept ourselves as we are at this present moment now, without craving or aversion.

Not to take simple or easy movements for granted. Being aware of different sensations that arise in different parts of the body while performing any movements for the yoga practices. It might be some pleasant sensations at certain parts of the body, and some unpleasant sensations at the other parts of the body while performing any yoga practice or asana practice or meditation practice.

Keep the mind stay focus and concentrate on what we are doing. Beside being aware of the sensations that arise throughout the body, at the sametime also being aware of what is going on in the mind.

Maybe the mind is resisting certain positions or movements. Maybe the mind generates craving towards what the mind and the body like about. Maybe the mind is craving to perform certain movements that will make the body and mind feel good. Maybe the mind is having aversion towards certain positions and movements that will cause discomfortable sensations in the body. Maybe the mind disagrees or rejects what the teacher is telling the students to do or what the teacher is explaining about the yoga philosophy. Maybe the mind agrees with and like what the teacher teaches in the class and generates craving towards what the mind likes to hear and like to do.

There is nothing wrong with feeling good and want to feel good. It is our basic craving.

Allow ourselves to feel good and to enjoy all the good feelings but without attachment, clinging and craving. And let it go when these good feelings are gone.

Allow the bad feelings to arise as well. We don’t have to enjoy bad feelings, but we don’t have to generate aversion towards them nor need to push them away. Don’t suppress them nor denying them. We just observe all these bad feelings and let them go. And they will be gone too. Not to judge these unpleasant feelings as something bad and negative.

Just be aware of all these mind activities in the mind but not attach to them, not associate with them and not generate reaction towards them. Allow them to arise in the mind, let them stay and pass away. No craving, no aversion. Not resisting, rejecting nor trying to push them away. All these mind activities are influnced by the elements and energy. It is not in our control that we want the mind to have such activities and not to have certain activities.

If we are able not to attach to the mind, and undisturbed or affected by the mind activities, then we are beyond the mind. We are the one who is in control of ourselves and not the mind controlling us or influencing us. Let the mind be the mind. We don’t need to react to the mind and not generate actions that are influencing by the mind and the ego.

We are just the witness witnessing what is going on in the mind, what the mind likes and dislikes, what the mind wants and doesn’t want, what the mind feels and doesn’t feel.

Observe any thoughts, feelings and sensations that may arise without identification with them, not associate with them, not attach to them, not generate reaction (craving and aversion) towards them.

No craving towards the positive thoughts, good feelings and pleasant sensations. Allow ourselves to enjoy any good feelings and pleasant sensations without generate craving. No attachment, no clinging and let them go when they change and disappear.

No aversion towards the negative thoughts, bad feelings and unpleasant sensations. We don’t have to force ourselves to enjoy any of these unpleasant experiences in our body and mind, but we don’t have to generate aversion towards them either. Just observe all these unpleasant experiences, and allowing them to arise, change and disappear by themselves naturally.

Know that all these positive or negative thoughts, good or bad feelings, pleasant or unpleasant sensations, that they all are very temporary, they will change and they won’t last forever. They don’t belong to us and they are not us. It is not in our control that we only want to have positive thoughts, good feelings and pleasant sensations. It is not in our control that we don’t want to have negative thoughts, bad feelings and unpleasant sensations. All these things come and go as they like. They don’t ask for our permission to come, to stay, to change and to go.

We cannot attach to them. We will be in trouble or make ourselves full of tensions, disappointment, frustration and unhappiness if we attach to either the positive or the negative things. We will be so unhappy if we want to have positive or pleasant experiences but it didn’t happen. We will be unhappy if the positive and pleasant experiences change and disappear. We will be unhappy if the negative or unpleasant experiences appear in our body and mind. We will be unhappy if we try to get rid of these negative and unpleasant experiences but we couldn’t make them disappear from our body and mind.

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These are the basic yoga practice from moment to moment.

Practicing non-attachment and letting go.

This will stop more tensions building up in the body and the mind. At the same time it will help us to relieve the existing accumulated tensions in the body and the mind.

When we know how to stop generating tensions into the body and the mind, we don’t even need relaxation because there is no tensions at all.

And before we want to pursue any other yoga practices that will give us good benefits, we need to know how to relax the body and the mind, so that the body and the mind is ready to receive all the goodness that yoga practice is bringing us.

Or else if the body and the mind is full of tensions, how can they absorb the goodness from the yoga practice? It is like wearing a very tight thick jeans, there’s no room or space for the air to come through the jeans to let the skin breath freely.

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