| By Penny Amman |
When I started practicing yoga years ago, I loved everything about yoga — except Savasana (aka final relaxation).
I just had this great practice and my body felt open and happy. So why did I have to lay down at the end and find stillness?
I had fifty-million things to do when I got out of class and lying there still wasn’t one of them. I had dinner to make, errands to run, work to complete and all that chatter in my mind made me squirm through my Savasana.
And while I was in Savasana, my stomach made loud gurgly noises, the person next to me lightly snored, and the song my teacher played during class ran through my mind along with all those other thoughts. Once the teacher called us out of Savasana, I was more agitated than when I started my practice.
I was confused. This was supposed to be a relaxing posture. Why couldn’t I find stillness and relax?
About this time, I realized that Savasana is the most difficult posture due to the body’s having to relax and the calming of the mind. It is also the most complicated because it must be done consciously. We are also relaxed during sleep, but there is no awareness.
Therefore, never neglect the Savasana, and do make time for it.
I then learned from one of my teachers that Savasana is the most important pose of my yoga practice, and that skipping it or becoming agitated because I had to lie in Savasana could tax my over-stimulated nervous system even more.
She stated that when we lie in Savasana for those few minutes after a yoga practice, we give the body and the nervous system time to assimilate the changes made in our yoga practice. She likened it to downloading new software into your computer, and then restarting the computer so all the changes the new software brought can take effect.
Savasana is our “restart,” and it takes stillness in our Savasana for all the changes from our yoga practice to take effect.
Here are a few tips on how to have a more relaxing and beneficial Savasana:
- Realize you aren’t alone and everyone’s mind does what the mind does: It thinks. And often we are so busy during our days that we don’t hear all the mind chatter until we hold still. And once we are still, the mind is like, “Oh, there you are!” and bombards us with all the stored-up thoughts.
- The key is to stay present with whatever is happening. Be present with mind, breath and body.
- When you realize in your Savasana that the mind is going 90 miles per hour, don’t push the thoughts away. Stay present with the thoughts; acknowledge the thoughts without reacting to them.
- Once you acknowledge the mind chatter, bring your awareness to your breath, your natural breath. Stay present with the breath. Follow the breath in and out the nose. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your belly with your breath. Watch for those moments of peace and quiet between thoughts.
- Scan your body while in Savasana for areas you may be holding tension. Shoulders, jaw, and hips are all areas we hold tension in the body. When you discover an area of tension, don’t push it away. Stay present with the sensations of the body. Imagine drawing the breath to that area with your inhale and imagine exhaling the tension out of your body.
Little by little, I was able to lie in Savasana in a more peaceful, restful-but-aware state. I stay present and accept myself and my experience exactly as it is, dropping the need to change it in anyway. I witness with compassion and acceptance all that is present with me and keep returning to my breath.
Savasana has so many benefits and is a wonderful way to train your mind to work more effectively with thoughts. Once you master the Savasana awareness and relaxation, you can bring it into your other yoga asanas, and then beyond your yoga mat and into your life.
Now I am grateful for my Savasana and look forward to those peaceful but aware minutes at the end of my practice.