On Skipping Savasana
This week I read an article about people leaving yoga class right before the pose of final relaxation. I was initially baffled by this information. Who would willingly leave a quiet place in a relaxed body with a calm mind?
And then I remembered a younger me walking into a yoga class for the first time, ready to move, sweat, and prove my strength. I was humbled when the older woman beside me gracefully lifted into a headstand while I hid my face in child’s pose. As the final posture for relaxation was offered, I recall lying on my back thinking what a waste of time it was. I had things to do. If I was not moving, I was not improving, and if I was not improving I was not being successful. So I went home and worked on my headstand.
Savasana is a Sanskrit word translated as “corpse pose”. When I first heard this interpretation I wondered why I would want to act lifeless. Then I had a wise teacher share that this pose can be symbolic of “dying to an old way of thinking and doing”. Oh, so I wasn’t lying unconscious on a mat for five minutes? I’d like to say I got it after this description, but that moment only began an infinite internal journey of self-discovery.
Fast forward years later, many teachers, studios, trainings, jobs, homes, a marriage, motherhood, and countless thought-altering life experiences, to this moment where the pose I had wanted to skip has become the pose I savor. I see the experience of those who want to skip stillness. I have known restlessness in my own body, and am still familiar with those feelings as they creep in while I swiftly and lovingly greet them. I have wanted motion and commotion to cover thoughts I didn’t want to hear. And have also felt the genuine desire to want to be with myself in quiet.
So I set out to practice savasana just as I had practiced sirsasana (headstand) years ago. I gave myself time to see what was moving inside me instead of being distracted by what moved around me. I invited stillness in, just as it was. First, it was loud and uncomfortable. Thoughts and sensations continued to move while my body was motionless. I focused on my breath, feeling it fill me and flow through me. I decided to release the need to be perfect, to be anything, and in turn received space for presence, to be just as I am. I didn’t have to do anything to be anything. I faced pain and at its threshold, I met Grace. I acknowledged darkness, thoughts that were not serving me, and chose to energize the light, thoughts of love. I was reminded of a bird floating with gentle movement amongst the current; choosing to flow instead of fight.
Time, Intention, Attention
It is often said that time heals and changes things. Perhaps that is true, but I found that authentic evolution requires time, intention, and attention. In each moment of stillness, I consciously allow there to be time to feel and focus my attention on whatever is unfolding in my present space. I check my intention, asking myself if I am fueled by needing to prove something to someone or myself or powered by passion to rest and redirect from a place of love.
Maybe these three words will resonate with you too, on your unique path.
- Time – Allow yourself space to settle. Take deep breaths and give the body time to respond to your breath request for peace. Deep breathing can activate the nervous system responsible for calming the body, but it takes time. Acknowledge any emotion that may be present, it can serve as a message sharing what is happening internally. Notice, feel, and flow through it.
- Intention – An intention is simply what you want to happen. Actions of the body originate as thoughts in the brain. If you want to create positive change, check in with your intention, and gently ask yourself if you are moved by fear or love; fear of being too much or not enough, or love in being as you are.
- Attention – Offer your uninterrupted attention to your intention and your actions. As the mind wanders, which it does, gently bring your focus back to noticing your breath. This simple practice can ground you in your present life, releasing your hold on past thoughts or projected future views. If discouragement stops by, I lovingly encourage you to acknowledge it, but not invite it in to stay. Feelings will flow through you and beyond you, the moment will change, everything does. Be still long enough to uncover your true nature of love; and let that be your experience and existence.
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