The Yoga Sutras, an ancient text of yoga, say surprisingly little about how we should go about the physical practice of yoga. They say that the poses are steadiness and comfort, which is as specific as they get. 

Anybody who’s been to a yoga class might doubt that characterization. How comfortable are you supposed to be while trying to put your feet behind your head, exactly? But here’s the thing – that level of challenge is exactly the technique yoga uses to help people increase their relaxation skills in the real world.

I often tell my students when we’re hanging out in a particularly stretchy pose (like pigeon) that if they can relax in that pose, the next time they’re stuck in a stressful meeting or a traffic jam, relaxing won’t seem so daunting. 

First you work on relaxing poses that aren’t deep stretches, like standing up straight or even lying on our backs. As you get better at that, you start to add in some challenges, like relaxing while standing on one leg, or relaxing while deeply stretching the muscles, or even relaxing while standing on one leg AND deeply stretching the muscles. And it goes on from there.

Relaxation is a skill like riding a bicycle. The more you practice it, and the more different situations you practice it in, the more natural it’s going to feel. We all face mountains of stress in our daily lives – practicing in new and unique ways helps us to perform more effectively even under those stressful situations. 

Join me for yoga on Tuesdays at 9:30am and 11:00am. 

Full yoga schedule at