I have been so blessed and grateful for the opportunity to be the lead instructor for a 200 hours yoga teacher training and to create Choose2be yoga school. It has been amazing to spend 8 weekends with these 12 beautiful beings, like Deborah, and also incredible to have 15 different instructors to come lead part of the training. It was alreadyIt has been a really rich and amazing journey in so many different ways. This Spring 2019 YTT was the second YTT that Choose2be had offered and had already improved so much from Spring 2018 YTT. Stay tune to see the headline and details from Spring 2020 YTT.
Part of the participants homework was to write an essay on the topic of their choice and they were aware that I would be posting it on my website. We also did an exercise in the first weekend to create a life affirmation and core desire feeling, I invited them to share it with us. I am so humbled and touched that I got to support these amazing beings on part of their journey and I am looking forward to witness how life unfolds for them.
Savasana – Corpse Pose? Sounds a little deadly doesn’t it?
ln corpse pose, also known as Savasana/Shavasana, we symbolically “die” to our old ways of thinking and doing. Despite what your mind thinks when you read the words Corpse pose, it is said to be one of the most important forms of all yoga postures if one wanted to gain enlightenment (Kaivalya jnana) in present time.
Savasana is derived from the Sanskrit word Shava which means corpse and asana which stands for posture or seat, meaning corpse pose of yoga meditation also known as “dead man’s pose”. Ah, Savasana… the sweet sounding 4-syllable word any yoga teacher can say to you.
After a long practice, lying down into corpse pose is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. But do you know why? Let’s start with Savasana’s history. The earliest mention of this asana is in the th century. Hatha yoga Pradipika 1.32 which states that lying full length on your back like a corpse is called Savasana or Shavasana. ln lndia, meditating on death is a part of a culture practice. lt helps to come to terms with death as a part of life. “We are of nature to die, there is no escaping death”. ln Savasana we are encouraged to celebrate death, celebrate the acceptance of, the lives we’ve lived and the practice we just did. The story of Brahma reads; The god of creating life, who created so much life that the world became overpopulated. His wife Sarasvita, the goddess of wisdom, told him that he had no exit strategy for the lives he created and he must also create death. So, Brahma created Mrityu, a goddess to take away people’s lives. Mrityu was horrified by her duty and ran away. Shiva, the god of yogi’s, found her weeping and said not to worry because he would see to it that all who die are reborn. And so, she became maha Kali, the dark goddess who devours life and Shiva became Mahakala, the regenerator. Together they take what was and transform it into foundation for a new being.
Savasana can be performed at all different times of the day. Morning, after yoga practice or before bed as the benefits meet expectations of all these times for different purposes. Morning Savasana can be performed prior to stepping out of bed, as it furnishes your nervous system with a whole lot of neuromuscular information, Savasana helps your nervous system integrate this information before your mind gets busy with regular stress of the day.
After a strenuous workout that involves stretching, twisting and contracting muscles, Savasana allows your body to regroup “restore”. Don’t underestimate the art of relaxation. Savasana can be the most difficult pose of your practice. The art of relaxation is harder than it looks and sounds. lt doesn’t happen on demand: You can’t just say, “ok, l’m going to relax, right now!” Savasana is a gift. The pose sets up the conditions that allow you to gradually enter a truly relaxed state, one that is deeply refreshing in itself, that can serve as a starting point for meditation.
The essence of Savasana is to relax with attention, that is to remain conscious and alert while still being at ease. Remaining aware while relaxing can help you begin to notice and release long hold tensions in the body and mind. Relaxation is the first step to surrender. Savasana (corpse pose) is a posture to practice surrender. It is also a practice for the ultimate surrender of our own death. ln Savasana, there is nothing left for us to do. We are asked to just lye there, releasing any tensions in our bodies, letting go of effort and trusting that the breath (pranayama) will breathe us and the body will renew itself. This is one of the most important practices we can do, for it is here that we begin to learn the meaning of letting go of all the ways we mentally and physically fight with life. As we learn to stop fighting life, we can begin to act skillfully.
Control makes us rigid and tight and narrows our perspective. Getting rid of our armor, opens a world of possibility and makes us lighter and more comfortable for the journey. As we relax and release our rigid thoughts and muscles, we begin to flow with life.
Savasana is a practice of gradually relaxing one body part at a time, one muscle at a time. When we do this practice day after day, it conditions the body to release stress and can improve one’s sense of physical and emotional wellbeing, but when you have tightness and tension built up in your body relaxing when you lie down feels impossible that’s why its important to practice the other active asanas before attempting Savasana because they stretch, open and release tension in the muscles. They also help to relax the diaphragm, so the breath can move freely.
ln full version of the pose you rest your entire body on the floor and extend your arms and legs outward from the torso evenly. Mentally scan the body from head to feet, gradually releasing each body part and each muscle group; taking time to notice all the places where the body is making contact with the floor.
lf you feel uncomfortable in any part of your body, you may need further support. Use props to relieve any pressure and release tension so you can fully relax, breathing (deerga) long, slow and steady breaths, this helps slow your mind to allow openness to accept the gift of Savasana.
When coming out of Savasana, first take two deep breaths. Give yourself a few moments to regain physical awareness of your arms and legs, then slowly move your body with gentle attention. As you release your physical body, you may even discover another part of yourself that is light and free. Commit this resting pose to thanking the infinite mind for its guidance during the day. Practice time for Savasana can vary from 5-10 mins. lt takes at least 15 mins. to relax deeply. Most yogi’s practice up to 30 mins. for optimal relaxation and benefit.
CONTRAINDICATIONS and CAUTIONS
*Back injury or discomfort: Do this pose with your knees bent, flopped inward and your feet on the floor, hip distance apart; either bind the thighs parallel to each other with a strap (taking care not to position the heels to close to the buttocks) or support the bent knees on a bolster.
* PREGNANCY: Raise your head and chest on a bolster. (Third trimester)
Resources: YTI handout Veronique Rioux Pg.66
MODIFICATIONS and VARIATIONS
*modification: Place a bolster or blanket under the low back and/or knees.
Corpse pose is traditionally practiced at the end of a yoga sequence. lt can however be used at the beginning to calm the body before practice or in the middle of a sequence to rest. When used at the end of a yoga practice it is traditionally followed by a seated meditation period to re-integrate the body-mind-spirit back into the world.
As a young girl, I had seen death quite a bit and so I believed that the trauma of that had triggered the fear of death in my mind. I am very passionate about overcoming fears and this essay on savasana has furthered my healing. “One day we all die, LIVE NOW! NO REGRETS!
ln Peace. OM SHANTI.