Deep Relaxation for Mental Health Benefits
Many yoga sessions end with Corpse Pose (Savasana), which is a pose meant to create deep relaxation. This pose is very important for integrating the benefits of breath and movement practices, and should not be skipped. Plus, if you’re feeling ungrounded, deep relaxation may help your nervous system rebalance itself. It has also observed that sometimes people who have mental health issues aren’t always comfortable doing deep relaxation for too long, or they start feeling fidgety. But even if you only practice Corpse Pose for a minute or two, you will reap some of its calming benefits. In the traditional Corpse Pose, you lie flat on your back with your legs resting hip-distance apart and your arms relaxed alongside your body with your palms facing up.
One relaxation exercise you can do in Corpse Pose is to focus on one part of your body at a time. While lying on your back, bring your awareness to your left foot, then your left shin, then your left knee, until you have covered every major part of your body. When you finish this deep relaxation, consider doing a very short meditation. You can do this while still lying in Corpse Pose, or sitting up. I suggest doing a “my favorite place” meditation, where you pick an image that brings you joy and mentally take yourself there. See the sights, smell the smells, feel the sensations. For people with mental health issues, this type of meditation is preferable to letting a teacher mentally guide you to places like a beach or a mountain, because certain images such as a beach or a mountain may be triggering.
Find a Yoga Teacher With Mental Health Expertise
You can practice yoga on your own, but having a teacher who has experience instructing people with mental health issues is especially valuable for someone with schizophrenia. These teachers are likely to be certified in yoga therapy, as opposed to being a more basic yoga teacher.
If you can afford a few private sessions, this might be better than diving into a group class. If you are feeling anxious, for example, your teacher can modify the practice so you don’t do as much movement that day, or, if you’re not feeling grounded, the teacher might have you spend a lot of time sitting on the floor with both pelvic bones touching the ground.