Thursday, August 30, 2012

Savasana: Not Just Grown-Up Nap Time!

The month of August has been Savasana Month at Jaya Yoga Center.  Also know as, Emily's Favourite Month, and, Minimum Four Yoga Classes a Week Month.  It came as a surprise to Ramit, the director at Jaya Yoga East, since I'm such an active all-six-cylinders gunning kind of woman, but I LOVE Savasana.
I think largely it's because I do push myself so hard, and since I'm constantly dealing with higher sleep needs than average (9-10 hours, instead of 7-8), and general fatigue if I don't really watch what I'm eating and stay consistent with my herbs and teas, I tend to just ignore the little voice inside of me that says, "Slow down!  Take a nap!  You are crazy!"  Who has time for that??  But if a yoga instructor says tells me to lay down and do nothing at all, I finally feel like I can take a break, both mentally and physically, especially after a tough practice.  And what a delicious, delicious relief!
Of course, being a Savasana-lover means being ripped right out my zen yogini headspace when a teacher is so excited about showing us those last couple poses that Savasana gets shortchanged.  In my classes, Savasana is MINIMUM five minutes, and 90% of the time, you're getting ten.  You need it!  I can get very childish and pissy if I feel I've been thwarted out of my relaxation time, especially when it's Savasana month.

Aaaaand, of course, that pissy moment is when the yoga begins.  I should know this, because I take the time to say it every single time I bring a class back from Savasana: the idea is to take that feeling, that sense of peace and presence, with you, and if you do that, it matters less if your Savasana was two or ten minutes long.  Just like we're challenged to relax our jaws and smile during that fifth breath of Warrior III, we're challenged to drop the cranky story we're telling ourselves when Savasana seems too short, and sincerely thank our instructor and wish her or him well.

It's not always easy, especially when that sense of righteous indignation kicks in: she's the teacher!  She should know how important Savasana is!  And she's also a student, just like me, and I have made some hilarious yoga bloopers.  I sometimes think we yoga teachers tell our students to practice with their eyes closed so they don't see our looks of horror when we make a mistake.

But I know there are some of you out there who think I'm crazy.  Who can possibly like Savasana?  It's such a waste of time!  We could be working more!  We could be out the door and on our way to the next thing on our to-do list!

Well, hate to break it to you, but Savasana is widely regarded as the most important asana.  Ramit described it as being the bridge between asana, and meditation, and we all know that meditation is the whole point of these crazy shapes we put ourselves in.  Your body is theoretically ready for a break after working hard, but maybe your mind isn't.  If you struggle with calming your mind during a sweaty practice, it's not likely to slow down anymore when you let all that effort go.  I wish I could offer you a quick fix, but ultimately, meditation isn't supposed to always be comfortable.  You're just supposed to practice anyway.

Some people find focusing on their breath, or on each bodypart slowly getting heavier to be helpful.  I find it usually helps if I ask myself what my next thought will be, and then watch my brain very carefully, waiting for that next thought to emerge.  It usually doesn't.  Ah, silence!

One more piece of bad news: you're not supposed to fall asleep!  Yes your mind should be still, but it should remain alert and present.  Are you beginning to grasp why it's also considered one of the most difficult poses?

Ah well, guess I'll have to practice it more!

Live Omily,

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