Challenging Easy Pose
Posted by terrepruitt on February 25, 2014
I love my students. They are a great source to me; they teach me and they make me laugh. Recently one of my students happen to mention a policy that was told to her – a facility stated she could try the class for 10 minutes without charge, but would have to sign up for the class to stay longer. The comments from those that she was sharing this with was that 10 minutes was not really long enough to get a sense of the class and if they would like it. She said, “I know, if I would have only stayed 10 minutes I would have missed the nap time at the end!” That was the best. She, of course, was kidding . . . sort of. She was talking about Shavasana. A very important part, yet for many, one of the most difficult times in yoga.
She was kidding in the sense that we all know it is not nap time, but not having been familiar with yoga she would have missed seeing that part of the class if she had only been allowed to stay for 10 minutes. Shavasana is a pose of total relaxation. It is where you allow your body to rest and relax from the workout it just participated in. In some classes this is a necessary time for recuperation of the body, but in others it might not be so much about the body. In a Gentle Yoga class it could be more about the mind. In Nia we have BMES – Body, Mind, Emotion, and Spirit. We could say that shavasana is a time for those four things. So after a nice gentle class it could be more a time more for the mind, emotion, and spirit to relax. While the inner dialog should be kept to a minimum while practicing the asanas it is even more important to do so during shavasana. This is the time when the body absorbs all the goodness from the poses it just performed.
I had once thought that you DID shavasana IN the corpse pose, but the name comes from the Sanskrit words Shava meaning “corpse” or dead body and Asana meaning “posture”.*
One of the reasons shavasana is so difficult is because there is not supposed to be any inner dialog going on (as I just mentioned). This is not the time where you begin making your shopping list for your trip to the store after class, or where you decide what you are going to say to your boss/friend/spouse. This is a time of quiet, a time of reflection, a time where you do a “body check”. Check in with each body part or area of your body to see if it needs any attention, see if it needs to be relaxed and focus on allowing it to relax. Sometimes because of this relaxation one might fall asleep. When I first started every time I did shavasana I fell asleep. Now I don’t, I am better at being mindfully relaxed. It is a practice though. This might not be something that comes easy to you, it might be a challenge, but it is something worth practicing.
I’ve heard different ideas on how to hold shavasana in a class. Some say that a guided meditation is the way it should be done. Some say that total silence is the only right way. Some say some music or nature sounds should accompany this pose. In my classes I usually softly lead the participants into a relaxed state. Then I allow them quiet time with this pose — I do have sounds playing during class and I don’t turn that off, but sometimes I turn it down. Then after the time allowed I talk them back to awakening their bodies and moving again.
If this pose and time is not something that you include in your yoga practice, I encourage you to give it a go. Try it. If you fall asleep that is ok. But keep doing it and when you are able to achieve that relaxed state while staying awake you will see how powerful this simple pose is.
Do you practice shavasana? Have you ever fallen asleep during shavasana? How long do you stay in this pose?