July 7, 2020

Why is Savasana such a hard pose?

For some of us, Savasana is the best part of class. A welcome surrender, an invaluable opportunity to release and rest, a moment of complete suspension as we happily absorb all of the positive energy and movement from our practice. I even know some students who go to particular teachers because they teach a really blissful signature Savasana! For others however, having ‘nothing to do, nowhere to be’ can become an experience of inner conflict and provokes a deep feeling of discomfort. Given the opportunity it would be part of the class which some might prefer to skip, especially during lockdown!

Savasana means corpse pose.

When I first started yoga I used to think this was a horrible name, one that did not make me feel relaxed if I made the association too vividly before coming to lie down! As the years have gone on and I have delved a little deeper into the philosophy of yoga and uncovered a little more of it’s meaning, I have come to understand that really there is so much more to it…

Savasana is an ‘artform’ of relaxation.

It’s not about drifting off or waiting for the teacher to offer direction. It is a very tricky balancing act, a process to be gradually refined as we come back to it, time and time again. Instead of switching off, we should remain conscious whilst resting our focus within an embodied awareness. It should be an experience of effortless ease…it is the ultimate ‘letting go’

Letting go of our identification with “me, myself and I”. Letting go of expectation, preconception and any physical, mental and emotional tension we might be holding onto. In Savasana we let go of the practice and our thoughts as we rest in a place which is free from attachment, free from distraction and free from our ego. Like with any muscle we might want to strengthen, through a consistent and repeated practice we can condition the body and mind to understand how and where we hold onto stress, and through this realisation, we can learn to release.

Corpse pose is the ultimate symbol of acceptance

It’s in Savasana where we accept our wobbles, our weaknesses and any inaccuracy that we might have experienced during our physical asana but also on a much more profound level we might come to accept our physical mortality as a shared living experience…

Death is a part of our natural life cycle and to really feel contentment, happiness and peace, we have to learn to accept that death is a shared experience that we will all face. There is a yoga sutra which really sticks out when I think of Savasana (and our yoga practice generally). It suggests that if we learn to embrace the flexibility and impermanence of the world unfolding around us, we can be truly present and content within a harmonious ‘place of oneness’

(2:9) svarasa-vahi vidusho’ pi titherudho’ bhiniveshah- Fear of death, loss or change causes pain in everyone

When we settle into Savasana we are committing to a moment of stillness. Although we might find challenge in this act of surrender and some of us might feel a little strange in the stripping back of this moment, Savasana when viewed a little differently is the ultimate symbol of acceptance and in that moment of acceptance, relaxation will follow.

Savasana during lockdown

Let’s be very honest…it’s not the same experience as it was in the physical shala. A parcel might arrive, pets patter about our heads, children might come into the room…or the space we are practicing in is just not restful. It’s through my Savasana in lockdown that I have learnt to identify my two cats through the tone of their purr! With our regular yoga classes online it feels like there are so many more distractions that can limit the full potential and experience of our final resting pose. Without our fellow practitioners resting in the shala alongside us and our teacher minding the time in front of us, there is less accountability to committing to the full practice. However the transition you take off the yoga mat is the most important aspect of the class and it affects how you take your yoga with you into the rest of your day. Even if you find you can’t stay for the full duration…we would really like to encourage a mindful and conscious transition out of your home practice.

One option to help you to maintain and train your relaxation muscle if you are finding Savasana challenging during lock down, is to take a seat to close out the class instead. Sitting up tall might help you to feel less squirmy! You could also choose to follow or count your breath more consciously, which may help you experience a little more spaciousness, lightness and harmony. Either of these options would be a much more useful alternative to jumping off the mat and hurrying to your desk or kettle! Another tip is have all your props out and next to you, eye pillows, bolsters and blankets, so it really is an easy transition to comfort.

If you would like to explore and develop your relationship with relaxation why not join us for ‘Flowing into Stillness’ a new workshop inspired by the popular Bathing in Stillness monthly sessions that are regular to Heather Yoga…

This special session will help cultivate stillness through movement and deep rest with a joyful yoga flow and nourishing Yoga Nidra meditation. Heather will first guide you with a dynamic Vinyasa style practice uniting breath and movement to create heat, vibrancy and spaciousness in the body and a sense of mental lightness, ease and clarity. Then things get super comfortable as we drop into deep rest and awareness through the art of Yoga Nidra meditation aka Yogic Sleep.

For more details please click here

Author: Ellie Roberts is the operations and admin support at Heather Yoga. She also teaches the following regular classes throughout the week: Monday 6.30pm Runners and Cyclists, Tuesday and Thursday 7am Sunrise Yoga and 12.30pm Thursday Lunchtime yoga.