Thursday, March 13, 2014
Savasana (Corpse Pose): A Time to Rest or a Time to Become Fully Awake?
I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief when I tell my students it’s time to transition to the period of rest at the end of each yoga class called Savasana, literally translated as “Corpse Pose.”
As each student settles in, I offer softened lights, peaceful music—even neck pillows and bolsters to put under their knees. Experienced students often cover their bodies with blankets and their eyes with eye pillows. I tiptoe around the room and verbally guide each student into a quiet place where they can hopefully find, even if for just a moment, a place of internal peace. I’m rewarded for doing so. As my students relax, I feel the energy of their tranquility. I sometimes even hear a soft snore or two as they melt away into oblivion.
I don’t think we can underestimate the power of that quiet time. In our busy world, we rarely take the time to relax and let our minds just be free. Practiced this way, Savasana provides a time of inner peace. A moment of relief from the information overload of our always-busy lives.
But I sometimes wonder if we’ve missed the point. According to the teachings, Savasana isn’t really about relaxation. In fact, I’ve heard Savasana described as the most difficult of all yoga postures. A posture in which, bodies completely still, we are challenged to keep our minds focused. The pose is named “Corpse Pose” for a reason. We are to act as if our bodies had dissolved away—as if were already dead, so to speak.
When practiced this way, Savasana is a powerful tool. It can help us momentarily become less identified with our bodies and less attached to the trappings of our lives. In those last minutes of class, we can reconnect to the pure, perfect essence that already exists within each of us.
I’d like to offer you a challenge. The next time you rest in that final yoga pose, try not to simply melt into rest and oblivion. Don’t fall asleep, either literally or figuratively. Instead, stay truly awake, in a sort of resting meditation. Lie still, in complete silence, present with the sensations of your body and completely aware of the random thoughts of your mind. Use that time to connect with the beauty and perfection that is already within you.
It won’t be easy. It might not even be as pleasant as that ten-minute nap you were anticipating. But finding that quiet place within yourself will be well worth the effort.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber's author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and wherever books are sold.