Savasana- it's not a nap!
Class 10 is on the site now! Get ready to sweat...
Funny story about savasana...(the final pose of class where we rest on our back, eyes closed). It was my first teacher training, at Integral Yoga in NYC. We all had to take turns teaching. My friend Sue gave a great class. Afterwards we all contributed constructive feedback. Someone said "It was great, except for the snoring." I laughed and said "No way, someone was snoring???" The whole class looked at me...I thought it and said it out loud at the same time..."Wait - It was me????" "YES IT WAS YOU!" So that happened.
Savasana is also known as "Corpse pose" which I find terribly morbid. The logic behind this is that a Yoga sequence replicates the life cycle: we start with sun salutations, the origin of all life, then we build heat to wake our bodies up, use that heat to transform ourselves, shedding our old selves, and then "die" to be reborn/refreshed/anew. For me, that resonates. After a great practice I do feel reborn - shed of negativity, full of grace, generosity, serenity...same goes for after teaching.
For most of us, savasana is a lovely respite from the demands of the day. For others, its the "no one can see me if I sneak out" part of class. For others, like me in the story above, it literally was a nap.
Savasana is conscious relaxation. We are meant to be awake as we still our physical bodies in preparation for meditation, when we will work to gain awareness of our mental faculties. Why does this matter?
Stress comes in a myriad of forms and can be both a positive (getting a promotion, a great workout, starting a family, getting married, etc) or negative (natural disaster -hello pandemic!, losing a loved one, getting fired, etc). Both positive and negative stressors will affect our bodies physiologically: temporarily increased heart rate, increased blood flow, hyper-alertness, flooding of thoughts/plans/reactions. The difference in how we experience these stressors is mostly about whether or not we have control over them. When we deliberately choose the stressors, like that great workout, like our partners, like our ambition, we may not even perceive the physiological reactions the same way as when the stressor is out of our control, which typically feels very...stressful!
When we deliberately choose rest, but are still awake, we are consciously giving our body the signal to slow down: decreased heart rate, decreased blood flow, less mental gymnastics. This is entirely different than having sleep overtake you, which is not always a choice but instead can be the result of hard earned fatigue. Making this choice (remember stressors are experienced in particular ways based on whether or not we control the source of stress) allows us to experience the benefit of letting our physical body take a break. Imagine taking that skill- consciously allowing your body to relax while still awake -and bringing it into your life when you need it most. Doesn't that sound fabulous?
Or you could be the one snoring. That is totally fine! Can't say I haven't been there. Regardless, enjoy savasana. You will always find it in all my classes. Its the perfect drift off to meditation, the lovely space of stillness and quiet. More on that next week!
Who in your life needs to hear this today?
Namaste, Melinda and yes, Black Lives Matter.