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Just another Sunday…or is it?

Hello!  Some housekeeping:  I am subbing a bunch of yoga classes this week at Equinox Columbus Circle:

Monday 4/18 6pm, Thursday 4/21 and Friday 4/22 1:15pm.  Please come!

I was away last Sunday, super busy soaking in abundant sunshine and the warm, gentle, crystal clear waters of Miami’s South Beach. Needless to say, it was fabulous.  Much love to Michael Jones for always taking such great care of me.  We should all be so lucky:) In the meantime, I hope you are all well and happy.  Happy Sunday as I always say.  Great weather, so many other things to be thankful for, holidays if you observe them, etc.

Last night the most magical thing happened to me – before you start to wonder where I am going with this, I will reassure you, it probably happened to you as well.  Sleep!  I slept.  I mean, deep deep deep sleep.  I woke up this morning so incredibly refreshed and energized – which says a lot for 7am on a Sunday, which is when I wake up before heading out the door to teach my fantastic group of students Vinyasa yoga at 9am.  I leave some time to snuggle with my incredibly cute and affectionate dog Rosie, have some coffee, check some tweets and do some puttering around the kitchen.  Today was different, I knew right away.  I slept!!! And this deep sleep could not have come at a better time – yesterday was an extraordinarily full day, complete with an early morning trek to the outer edges of Queens for a national certification exam, continuing to the library to complete a 20 page paper for school, topped off with car trouble in the pouring rain, I mean, calls to AAA, moments of “really????”, and all.

Sleep – when it does what it is meant to do – on a  physiological level it is the time for our muscular, skeletal, digestive and other systems to rest and regenerate – is fantastic.  Powerful.  Life changing!  You know how wonderful it feels, how you all of a sudden feel that surge of positivity, that radiance of energy and light, that unmistakeable feeling of being rested.  It is so wonderful, and personally speaking, many times so elusive and rare that when it happens it is like I just know. I don’t have to think about why I am so happy, or so blessed, or so grateful – my mind is clear, and all of life’s amazing offerings feel like they are in the palm of my hand.

We have a version of this most wonderfully trans-formative experience in yoga class as well.  It is called savasana – pronounced more like SHA-vasana.  It is translated from the Sanskrit to mean “corpse pose”.  It is often the hardest pose for people, because as opposed to all the other asanas that rely on  specific alignment, coordinated breath movement and often challenging physical demands on the body, in savasana you are encouraged to do just the opposite, and let the body relax.  Savasana is also known as “yogic sleep”, and there is  a rich body of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the practice of savasana is how Buddhist monks are able to feel total relaxation and regeneration with very limited hours of actual sleep as we know it in the western world.  In fact, I have read and been taught from several sources that when we practice any form of physical yoga, like our asanas or breathing practices, we are really just preparing our bodies for savasana.  How does that work?  Well, much like a previous post where I spoke of the stress response in the body (scroll down or click on the previous posts listed to the right), when we move and stretch and explore tight muscles and stiff joints, we excite the nervous system.  Once we stop, slow down and begin to allow the body to adapt to and accommodate all that we have done, we experience the benefit from having opened up some channels that may have been previously closed off due to bound up muscle fibers, etc.  Then, like a cherry on top of an ice cream sunday or a really great big hug from a good friend, we get rewarded.  We get to lie on our backs, and do nothing.

Why would that be hard?  Because the mind wanders, and goes to our anxieties and fears.  We wonder about what things we need to do, what we have to accomplish, what we could have done better, what we wish we hadn’t done, how we will fix this or that, and how life seems to pass by so fast sometimes. We bundle all this up inside and when left with a moment of inaction – of peace, quiet, stillness and calm, our mind gets flooded with these thoughts.  Or maybe it doesn’t. Maybe we are able to explore our breath, visualizing our ribcage gently floating up and down with each inhale and exhale, imagine the floor holding us up, imagine that we are perfect just as we are, flaws, mistakes, limitations and all.  Maybe we take our yogic sleep as place and time of regeneration, nourishment for our bodies and minds, a place to explore tranquility, a place to experience stillness, calm, peace, trust, love.

And maybe, just maybe, we “wake up”  feeling revitalized, refreshed, renewed and inspired.  Try it. Take 5 minutes for some stillness, peace and quiet.  Lie on the floor flat on your back or modify for any lower back problems, and close your eyes.  Remain awake but listen to your breath and stay as present as you can.  Enjoy the magic! Reward yourself.  Give back your body. You will be so very happy you did.

Till next week…

“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we receive that heals us.”  (O. Hobart Mowrer, 1966).

“Things don’t change.  We change.” (David Henry Thoreau, Walden)


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