What happens in the extra mile

Sometimes I talk too much. I don’t mean to be annoying. There’s just so much to say. I start this blog to cover topics that are probably best covered in a workshop because class time is limited. But hey! Workshops cost money and reading my blog is free :). So avail yourselves. I get that people come to the studio wanting to move, move, move; they feel irritation and frustration with lecture. I strive to write more speak less. Nonetheless, sometimes I talk too much at the end of class, the sacred savasana. At the risk of offending hard-core savasana practitioners I’ll defend my mouthing off.

  1. Savasana is not supposed to be sleepy time.

Seriously. Many Americans are stressed, overwhelmed, anxious and overworked so they naturally, organically, unfortunately fall asleep in the last posture but that is not the pose. If you fall asleep in savasana you need more sleep. In bed. At night. Savasana is not a nap substitute. When you nod you miss your golden opportunity to take your yoga to the higher heights, the arcane, the occult, the place of change. All those sun salutes were the warm-up. Warm-up for what? Quiescence. Mental Calmness. Equanimity. There’s no mental awareness during sleep (unless I am lucid dreaming, but that is a subject for another day.) I need to be awake to experience the juice of the savasana.

2. Savasana is an experience of tranquility, self-possession and presence of mind

For this reason some teachers, Iyengar was one, say “Savasana is the hardest pose.” Rather than experience serenity people are tempted to use the down time to worry, fret, or mind-wander. What’s for dinner? Is the car meter up? Will I make the bus? All sorts of thoughts appear without invitation as soon as the yoga sequence winds down, requiring from us less attention. But that ain’t right. Just because the path of least resistance is nattering, that don’t equal good yoga. If you’re sold on the idea that yoga unravels, then don’t skip the best stuff, the pose voted most likely to achieve rest, relaxation, and higher brain function. Enter the metaphysical side of yoga from right here: savasana.

3. If I’m doing it correctly my mind should be open, conscious, balanced, sensitive and relaxed during savasana.

This is why, in an optimal situation, savasana is such a lovely perfect time to bring up yoga philosophy, commentary, observations and the like. I don’t mean to overshare, but if I’m going to talk, talking when someone is in listen-mode is probably the most apropos time – is it not? It’s not like I use savasana to bring up new classes, alignment, parking restrictions or party favors. I bring up conundrums, paradox, ideas worth considering, ideas that I fear get over looked when discussed at the beginning of class. For example? I often open with suggesting an engagement of all three bandha. Everyone visibly tones. Three poses in that cue’s been forgotten. What better time than savasana to reiterate? How did you do? If bandha dissolve with regularity use savasana to set intentions. Resolve to be aware. Own clear goals. Examine goals with detachment in a heightened state of consciousness.

4. Savasana is the last pose of the sequence, not the first pose of your next activity

As part of the sequence it’s a natural place to review what you just did, but savasana is also a pose in her own right, a place to be fully present. Allow all your muscles and bandha to disengage. Sense support from the floor. Nurture proprioception. Some people find being still, especially if the room is silent, an untenable torture. They would rather be wired or zonked, caffeinated or stoned. The middle kingdom is a foreign land. Because if I start to pay attention to me I’ll have to stop avoiding uncomfortable feelings. If I start paying attention to me I won’t be a nice girl, a good sport any more, I risk finding my inner grown-up. For such people I say, try savasana in the privacy of your own home, far from the madding crowd. Get used to yourself. Nothing is more valuable than feeling comfortable in your own body.

5. Savasana is savasana – not meditation, not pranayama.

When I say I talk “too” much. . .  the amount I talk is probably alright for the average beginner. Average defined as the kind of person fidgeting on her mat, looking very bored. This sort of person benefits from training wheels for the mind. It’s hard for her to know what is the point of savasana unless I say something. I mean I’m the teacher. So explanation rests with me, right? Am I right? If you are one of those people who feel restless, taut, agitated in savasana – then no, I’m not talking too much. I hitting just the right tone. I’m here to give you something to think about at the end of your practice.

6. If you’re thinking about that you’re not thinking about this

If I’m talking about kosha, chakra, kriya, mantra – while you’re lying in savasana my little speech (if you’re listening to me) keeps you thinking about this in lieu of am I snoring? Should I quit my job? Is my partner lying to me? And that’s good, to be in a flexible mind space when considering some of the way out there nonWestern, unfamiliar, unusual concepts that populate yoga. Ya gotta be open-minded or you won’t hear anything right. If you’re not listening carefully you’ll make those ugly assumptions that people who fear yoga as a spiritual practice so often make. Yoga requires focus and savasana is one of those peak poses for focus.

6. The Sensory Deprivation moment

I know I’ve said enough when I witness the bliss look, the release of tension, the savasana free from squirming and wiggling. The one worth having, when the senses have withdrawn and the body is highly conscious, yet very still and utterly peaceful. That’s when I tiptoe out of the room, or curl up into the corner ’cause I know they’re no longer on the same planet as me. It’s not called “corpse” pose for nothing. It should look like a dead man’s float in a sensory deprivation tank. Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.

Now y’all play nice!

Sat Nam

1 comment on “What happens in the extra mile

  1. as my most ardent intuit you explain perfectly what tamas rajas and sattwa exist fo the beings seeking release from suffering. each life is precious

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