Tension, we live with it like an annoying friend. It’s created by the mind but shows up in the body in the form of tightness in areas like neck and shoulders, chest and pelvis.

Where do you hold tension? Think of what normally creates it and where you hold that stress. Tension is another name for body stress and often a result of the ‘flight or fight’ response triggered in your ‘reptilian’ brain, which means we are often permanently ready for action even if we are on our Yoga mat trying to relax.

Doing Yoga doesn’t guarantee a tension free body at the end of your class. It needs to be unlearned if that makes sense.

The first few years of my own Yoga practise didn’t decrease my tension spots especially in my neck and shoulders. I found they were often just as tense at the end of the class as they were when I arrived on my mat, until I discovered the benefit of pause and space before I practised. It was a revelation as I gave myself permission to slow right down. Simple but so effective!

Tension doesn’t start or end in the body first, it’s always mind initiated.

So when you next do Yoga try these tension free steps:

  1. Slow right down before you approach any Yoga pose
  2. Breathe at least 2-3 breaths before commencing any movement towards the pose
  3. Visualise your pose before you step into it
  4. Grow into the pose without willpower. Yoga isn’t about willpower but allowing every step and every movement.
  5. Let your body lead you, not your mind. It takes practise but your body has so much inherent wisdom. Ask it to lead you.
  6. If your arms are above your head or at shoulder height for example, take your awareness maybe and if possible with closed eyes, relax the muscles that don’t need to be used. We can engage so many muscles in anticipation of the pose and yet many don’t need to be used in that moment, conserving and preserving energy.
  7. Bring your minds attention to the breath and even if it wanders, keep gently bringing it back to this moment and what you are doing. 


The benefits:

  1. Develops toned but tension free muscles
  2. Builds great awareness of the body and the ability to be able to listen with more clarity
  3. Allows your brain to calm the reactive response enabling a peaceful body and mind at class end
  4. Allows the pace of life to slow right down so you can appreciate your time on the mat
  5. Trains the brain to release the willpower response.

Gina Hardy

Gina lives in Surrey UK and is a Yoga teacher, relationship coach and therapist. She teaches people the art of self preservation by helping people have better relationships with their body and other people.  The key to life is relationship with everything and that starts with awareness of self. Her motto for life is: Live, Learn, Love, Pay it Forward.

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Comment by Kathy Custren on July 5, 2016 at 11:37pm

Hi, Gina - nice, concise advice that people can use. Great, but could you please be sure to include your 60-word bio paragraph with link at the end? Let me know once it is added and I will review once more. Thanks ~ Blessings! 

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