By: Charlotte Gallagher
One day after class, a student expressed that “that five minutes at the end of class is the only peace and quiet I get all day.” It's pretty amazing how five minutes of quiet can make all the difference in the world. Savasana, also known as corpse pose or basic relaxation pose, is possibly the most important part of a person's entire practice.
True relaxation is the "bread and butter" of ultimately calming our minds so that our habitual, unnecessary thoughts start to dissolve, and our suffering begins to diminish. In theory, the practice of savasana might seem easy because all you have to do is lay there, right? In a sense, this is true, but there is SO much going on in stillness, and THAT’S what you must practice tuning in to. If you don’t know what relaxation feels like, then you’ll have no idea how to do it or what to do when the time comes. Trying to relax for 5 minutes may seem like the hardest thing in the world when you are "tight" just out of sheer habit. Often times, we think we’re relaxed until the teacher comes and presses on your shoulders, and you realize you weren’t. The whole point of savasana is to notice these things so that you can experience magical moment of awareness and making adjustments if need be. The more you notice and make healthy changes, the faster your brain remembers to actually do it without you thinking about it as much anymore.
Depending on our habits in every day life, on a deeper level we might feel that if we’re “doing nothing” we aren’t accomplishing anything, therefore, creating the belief that you're not successful or worthy. I get it. But, really...think about your days. Do you ever slow down? Like INTENTIONALLY slow down? That’s where savasana comes in. It's all about intentionally slowing down and focusing inward. If you notice yourself having a difficult time staying still, I encourage you to practice it more. If you’re just waiting for it to be over every time, you’re literally missing out on a world of mental benefits. If you are uncomfortable with your legs out straight, try using a bolster and placing it under your knees to support the lumbar spine. Or, if your neck feels unsupported, place a blanket under your head. If you aren’t sure, PLEASE talk to your teacher before the class and they will help you find a suitable and comfortable position to be in for your savasana. The whole point is to be comfortable so that you CAN practice relaxing fully . When you enter savasana, GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to relax. Think of it as a time to hit the reset button so that when you go back out into the world you can go through your day feeling refreshed, clear-headed, and tension-free.
Keep the technique simple. Relax and feel. SLOWLY scan the body. Temporarily let go of everything you don’t need, and simply pay attention and see what happens. Dissolve every hint of holding on and SAVOR the way you feel. Watch the rise and fall of your belly. You might put one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart to notice the rise and fall of your breath. Connecting with your breath is connecting with yourself. Experience what’s happening right there where you are. Notice your skin, your spine, your fingertips, your toes, etc. No need to DO anything about it or move, just SIMPLY NOTICE AND BE AWARE. Feel the energy you are made of. The feeling of calm bliss is right there inside you, always. It’s something you let yourself relax into. The choice becomes easy once you realize you have a choice (The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness, Erich Schiffmann).
When you hear the singing bowl whether it’s three gongs or the whirring sound, I encourage you to remain in stillness and really take in the sound. Absorbing the vibrations of a singing bowl is SO therapeutic for our minds as it reduces stress and increases mental and emotional clarity. For more benefits of sound therapy please visit: http://www.rainbowvibrations.com/benefits-of-sound-therapy.html
Traditionally, savasana is practiced for 10-30 minutes because it takes the body that long to know true relaxation. Obviously, we have somewhat of a time crunch at the studio so we usually give at least 5 minutes, sometimes more (check out the Gentle Flow classes!). Overall, the more we start to willingly surrender into savasana and realize it truly might be the only 5 minutes of peace we get throughout the day, the more apt we’ll be to really soak it up. Plus, YOU DESERVE IT; from the hard work you do all day plus the work you do on the mat. The other magical part is when you reenter the outside world of chaos, it actually might not seem so chaotic anymore. In savasana you have experienced what it’s like to have inner stillness and peace…..and that is with you always.