November 7, 2011

Thoughts On Savasana

As a yoga practitioner, I have heard many different things about Savasana or corpse pose.  Including such things as: it is the hardest asana to master; you must relax after a yoga practice to allow all the benefits to take affect; you should lie is Savasana for at least 5 minutes; you should lie in Savasana for 5 minutes for each half hour of yoga practice. 

What I have understood most clearly is that Savasana is about letting go.  It is about resting in a state of total relaxation - mental and physical.  It is the hardest pose for me to attempt on a day to day basis. 

When I first started my yoga practice.  I would fidget.  I felt creepy crawlies on my skin.  Hair tickling my ear.  My throat always felt heavy, like I was being choked.  My lower back used to really bother me if I lay flat on my back.  Slowly, over time, these physicals annoyances became less pronounced.  My back felt better from the physical asana practice.  I ignore the tickles and the creepy crawlies and they eventually go away.  My throat sometimes still bothers me but only once every 6 months or so.

Now that I have learned to somewhat control my body in Savasana, I am trying to learn how to quiet my mind.  I try to focus on complete relaxation when I first start my Savasana - to feel a heaviness as my body sinks into the floor.  I read once (I think it was in one of Mr. Iyengar's books) that if your tongue is tense, it causes your brain to be tense.  So the first thing I do is to relax my tongue.  Then I focus on my shoulders and my arms.  I inhale deeply so that I feel my lungs fill completely with air and then exhale deeply.  I do this a few times to really bring the focus to my breath.  Some days I am able to drift off.  To just relax and breathe but most of the time my mind is doing it's little jig between focusing on my inhales and exhales to my dinner plans, my next blog post and the carpet that needs vacuuming.  When my mind wanders I try to come back to my breath.  I count the inhales and exhales so that I focus on one thing.  This may last anywhere between one and ten breaths before I go through the mind wandering and then coming back to my breath again.

In B.K.S Iyengar's Light on Life, he writes:
"To relax is to cut tension.  To cut tension is to cut the threads that bind us to identity.  To lose identity is to find out who we are not."

He continues to describe how existing in present awareness in Savasana is to let go of everything that defines us to who we are, even our sexuality.  I think I have a long way to go until I can experience what Mr. Iyengar describes.  But the key would be to keep trying.  To keep returning to my breath.  To keep trying to simply exist instead of existing with attachments.

One Savasana at a time.  One breath at a time.  One moment at a time.  Try to find the quiet.

Shhh Via

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