Are there days when you want to pull your hair apart, grind your teeth, and tighten your fist? Well, tighten your fist more. In fact, tighten your whole body. Breathe out, squeeze your stomach in, frown and purse your lips together. And now, let go with a ‘haa’ sound. What did you enjoy more? Did you enjoy keeping the fist closed or letting go?
The above is one of many Sukshma Yoga or Sukshma Vyayama (subtle yoga) techniques. The differentiating quality of these yoga relaxation techniques is that they are simple, short and subtle. And you can also do them on days when you don’t feel like pulling your hair. “This is one of the fastest ways to relax yourself,” says Pallavi Joshi, a regular practitioner of Sukshma Yoga. “You can do it anytime and anywhere – sitting at home, at your workstation or while travelling in a car, bus or as aeroplane yoga”, says another Sukshma Yoga lover.
Instructions for Sukshma Yoga exercises
Sukshma Yoga takes no time or preparation. These little exercises open up subtle energy channels, and in a session as short as 7 minutes, you can feel a highly palpable difference.
- When something goes wrong, we place our hands on our heads and say, ‘Oh God!’ Massaging relaxes the mind, and when the mind is relaxed, life becomes smoother.
- Pinch your eyebrows 5-6 times using your thumb and the index figure. Did you know that we use 72 muscles to frown and only half the muscles to smile?
- Roll your eyes 5-6 times clockwise and then anticlockwise.
- Squeeze your eyes tight and then open them wide. Repeat this for 10-15 times.
- Pull your ears for 10-15 seconds. Scientists say that all the nerves that increase pragya (awareness) are located in the lower part of the ear. Sometimes, parents or teachers pull children’s ears to increase their awareness and reduce the chances of making a mistake. If you pull your ears, no one will have to pull your ears.
- Hold your ears and move them clockwise and anti-clockwise (as if riding a cycle) till your ears become hot.
- Move three fingers (first, middle, and ring finger) from the jawline to the chin and massage your cheeks. You could keep your mouth open as you do this. Did you find knots in the space between your jaws? This is a place where stress hides. See how ‘knotty’ you have been and iron out all the knots.
- Open and close your jaw 8-10 times.
- Open your mouth and move your jaw side-to-side 8-10 times.
- Rotate your neck. Breathing in take your head back and breathing out, touch your chin to chest. Rotate your head in a clockwise direction. Breathe in as you go up (first half of the circle) and breathe out as you return to the starting position (second half of the circle). Repeat this 5-6 times clockwise and then anti-clockwise.
- Shake your hands for 2 minutes. If you are wondering with what intensity you need to shake, watch how dogs and cats shake when they don’t want water to stay on their bodies. They just shrug it all off and move on. So shake, shake, shake your hands and slowly bring them to a halt and sit still.
As you practice these techniques, you begin to understand what impact each stretch has on your mind. Each little movement or activity releases some stress, and you can slowly start comprehending the mechanism of prana (energy) movement within yourself. This knowledge can only be gained by practice and experience, not by reading. You will find yourself in a zone where your body-mind coordination is effortless and precise. Yet that is just a peripheral side effect of yoga.
There’s so much more. Happy practising!