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Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…

Sometimes students have written to or asked Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Ritavan Bharati, and other senior teachers in our tradition questions about practice.  This is one such “Question and Answer,” or Q&A.


I run a yoga center and 2 teachers are helping me voluntarily. They are good teachers of Hatha who are not from our tradition, and they do the relaxation exercises after the Hatha, starting relaxing from the toes going up.

During my class, being a certified Yoga Teacher I start from the forehead going down, as I have been taught.

I have asked them this morning to do it my way. But I am feeling bad. Was there a reason Swami Rama taught us to start relaxation from the crown to the toes? Please enlighten me. Aum, in service


Four have answered this question: Stephen Parker (Stoma), Swami Radha Bharati, Lalita Arya (Ammaji), and Pat Layton.

From Stephen Parker (Stoma):

Swami Veda addressed this question by saying that we begin from the head because we begin by relaxing from the seat of the mind.

From Swami Radha Bharati:

A few years ago Swami Veda gathered us together at SRSG and went over progressions of practice in meditation, shavasana, breath awareness, kundalini, and so forth.  An excerpt from the shavasana portion is as follows:

2. Relaxation. Many schools start relaxation from the toes. We start from the head. We start from the mind, except in one place where Swami Rama has done from the toes and that is the Om Kriya practice.

Prasava and prati-prasava, sṛiṣṭi mārga and saṁhāra mārga and sthiti mārga; it is all connected with Śhri Vidyā and Sāṅkhya. Someday I will write, like the ‘Philosophy of Hatha Yoga, I will write when I am one hundred years old on ‘The Philosophy of Śhavāsana’. It is very detailed. All of Sāṅkhya and Śhrī Vidyā are applied in the relaxation practices.

So relaxation can be in almost all cases from the head down but in some cases from the feet and in some rare cases from the hands. It is a different system that we do not teach. That is part of ‘sthiti nyāsa’ in Śhri Vidyā.

From Lalita Arya (Ammaji):

I remember SVB repeating this relaxation exercise from the head "as the seat of the mind" which (mind) has to be used to guide through the muscles, etc of the body.
The other exercises are from different practices.

From Pat Layton:

I was once in a class with Swami Rama who was asked why he started relaxation at the head and he said (I'm paraphrasing), first relax the brain, then the rest of the body relaxes more quickly and deeply.

Editor’s Notes:

If you have a question about spiritual practice, you can use the "Contact the Spiritual Committee" link on the Ahymsin website to ask it.

Previous “Dear Yoga Mentor, My Question Is…” columns.



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