Savasana, or corpse pose, is best known as the final relaxation after a yoga practice. It’s certainly not as easy as it looks, and that’s why I am choosing it for “pose of the week”. First, two references from Yoga Journal:
I’ve never been particularly good at clearing my mind and relaxing – and my ongoing battle with blood pressure and stress will attest to this. Thankfully, I am a lot better than I used to be, but I still have a long way to go.
When I first started practicing yoga as a young adult, I didn’t even try to clear my mind and relax my muscles, I just tried to lay as still as possible so no one would know I was contemplating world peace (or more likely, rehashing the argument I had with my mother earlier that day). I knew that ultimate relaxation was just a catchy phrase that had no place in my reality.
It wasn’t until around 2017, when I took yoga in a small group from a teacher who led a teacher training program, that I felt I should probably embrace a more authentic Savasana. I still remember the first Savasana vividly. I was in a modified form of the pose because I had never practiced in this manner before and that’s where new students began. I didn’t particularly appreciate the set up that was involved in placing the blankets to accomplish the modification (and even less so when I saw how particular the rules were for folding them and putting them back afterwards).
There were like six of us in the room and I was so embarrassed by all of my props. I didn’t understand why all of that fuss was necessary for a pose that for all practical purposes was just laying on the floor. I completely missed the point and it was very obvious that I had a lot to learn!
I laid there for what seemed like an eternity, trying to clear my mind and relax my body. All I felt was anxiety and frustration; it was like my legs were going to jump out of my body. I could not even come close to relaxing! I tried to force myself, but I was just so jittery and restless. I just wanted it to end and then I could go home.
It was crazy!! I honestly don’t know why this particular experience was so terrible for me, but I am happy to say that I’ve done a much better job at relaxing since that time. I can clear my mind and appreciate the rest after a taxing practice.
The one thing that currently ruins my Savasana is being cold. Since I mostly practice at health clubs, the teachers often have no control over the temperature of the room. One of the classes I attend is so frigid that I bought a yoga blanket just for that purpose. I just don’t always bring it because I feel like I look pretty silly walking into the gym, when it is 100 degrees outside, carrying a blanket!
But, if I am cold, I don’t relax – it’s that simple. I’ve actually left classes before Savasana or during (as terrible as it sounds) because I simply cannot lay still when I am freezing.
The first Yoga Journal article recommends 5 minutes of Savasana for every 30-minutes of practice. That’s good information for me to know, as it turns out I am skimping on my final relaxation time, both at home and in the health club. I’m afraid if I increase the time, I will quickly find that my ability to relax maybe hasn’t improved as much as I think!