I tuned into a program the other day…the characters in the show had decided to experience the outdoors for the weekend at a lodge retreat. While fishing, they caught bundles of fish, only to find out from the owner of the lodge later on, that he stocks the lake with fish then seals it off so people can catch fish quickly…”we stock it because people have busy lives, they don’t want to waste all their time fishing, they need to get back to the city”, he explained. Of course, this took away from the entire experience for the characters of the show. But this made me think how frequently we approach Savasana in much the same way.
Savasana is such an integral pose in a yoga class (as a teacher I witness it almost as a sacred integration time). It’s the assimilation of and the experience of, all the energy we worked and worked through, in the asanas which led up to Savasana. And yet, I’m so often perplexed at how common it is to offer only two or three minutes of Savasana (lucky if we get five) “at the end of class”…it’s not a pose which is considered part of the class. It’s squeezed in, before the mayhem of rolling up mats, packing up bags, and hitting the road back to work, or whatever is next in our lives.
Often at the beginning of class, teachers will ask the students what they might like to work on…many lively suggestions for shoulder openers, hip openers, inversions, even scorpion(!) come rolling forward…but rarely have I heard someone request to practice Savasana…and if someone does, chuckling will cross the room, as though it can’t be a pose taken seriously enough for practice.
A long Savasana is critical to a good yoga class. Some people fall asleep, and others are still whirling in their minds, restless in whatever they’re thinking about; but a long Savasana (hopefully 10-15 minutes) allows that time needed, for the breath to rustle through those last edgy bits, before a person’s entire being can settle into the floating space of that stillness of Savasana; that experience of being whole in mind, body, and spirit. I practice with a teacher in India who always says, if you want to meditate, practice Savasana.
Savasana heals deeply, and it ties together all the pieces of a yoga class. Without it, we walk away from a class feeling somewhat off, in a way we might not have words for but in a way of knowing something isn’t quite complete. Unfortunately, it’s easy to shrug this sensation off, as we busy ourselves with what we’ve planned next; but that doesn’t make it right….it makes it the same as what we often do in life…shrug off something which isn’t quite settling in or sitting right. I don’t believe yoga class should leave us feeling in that way. There is already too much of ignoring our own Being in the world. We usually walk into an asana practice somewhat fragmented from our day, it doesn’t make sense to leave a class feeling the same way as when we came in.
Savasana is a pose which we don’t have to “Do”, it’s one which we consciously allow (“consciously” is the “doing”). Allowing ourselves to receive relaxation is not a habit we’re used to. Even the most active mind ultimately surrenders to Savasana if given the time to do it. Give yourself a chance to honour Savasana and the time you spend there. Receive its benefits, its offering, and all that it’s doing for you. So when you get up from your mat, you can carry it with you.--with love, Letters In Yoga www.lettersinyoga.com
“By relaxation of all strain in the yoga posture,
there is a merging with the infinite.”
– Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2:47