If you don’t have time to practise asanas, then there is an excellent method of bringing about reasonable relaxation of the body within a short time. The practice to use is naukasana. Briefly, naukasana tenses the whole body for a short time and then relaxes it again. Repeat a few times. This is an excellent method of attaining physical relaxation quickly. It works on the principle that after accentuated physical tension there is a tendency for the body to take the opposite extreme, namely relaxation.
There is another method in which the different limbs of the body are tensed as much as possible one after the other. Lie flat on your back in shavasana. Direct your awareness first of all to your right leg and tense it as much as possible for as long as you are able, without strain. Then release and relax. Then repeat with the left leg, the two arms, the fists, the abdomen, chest and shoulders, and finally the whole body. This should take about five minutes and is a rapid way of relaxing the body in preparation for meditational practice.
Mental relaxation: The whole point of meditational practices is to induce mental tranquility as a means to meditation. However, it is often difficult to progress with the practices because of emotional and mental tensions. Asanas and pranayama are excellent methods of calming even the most turbulent mind. This is another reason for practising asanas and pranayama before attempting meditational techniques.
Often we are overwhelmed by obsessive and persistent thoughts which have emotional overtones, such as jealousy, hatred, pride, fear and a multitude of others. These are not easy to remove. On no account should you suppress them, for they will only lie dormant in the subconscious mind. Let these lingering and exhausting thoughts arise but try to watch them with awareness. That is, look at the thoughts as though they are something different from yourself, as though they are happening outside you. In this way they will lose their intensity and cease to overpower you. Of course prevention is better than cure. It is preferable that these emotionally loaded thoughts occur as little as possible in the first place. This can be done by adopting the rules we have already explained in previous discussions, together with constant practice of yoga in all its forms.