Savasana always come at the last of yoga session and many people misunderstood the ideas behind this relaxing pose and skip it to resume their routine. Ann Barros shares her views around the importance and the benefit of the pose.
In his book, “Light On Yoga”, B.K.S. Iyengar considers Savasana the most difficult pose. When first hearing this, many of us long-time practitioners of yoga may disagree. To most of us, Savasana is a well-deserved rest after a challenging class. It is a chance for the body to release all the effort after a strenuous yoga session. Many of us are happy to go into a deep state of relaxation. But is this really Savasana? Just relaxing deeply, or possibly going to sleep?
According to Mr. Iyengar, Savasana is about “shedding” – letting go – “like a snake shedding its skin to emerge glossy and resplendent in its renewed colors.” We have many skins, sheaths, thoughts, judgments, ideas, prejudices, and projects for the future. Savasana is a shedding – a letting go – “of all these sheaths to see how glossy and gorgeous, serene and aware is the beautiful rainbow-colored snake who lies within. We even lie on the ground as a snake does, with the maximum possible surface of our bodies in contact with the earth.”
Deep relaxation is actually not that easy. Oh, it may be an eager dropping of the weight of our body into the floor after having exerted muscularly for two hours of asana practice, but soon after, the mind interferes with many thoughts and tension - which distract us from savoring our quiet inner body, our Self, our Spirit. Tension prevents relaxation, and keeps us bound to our earthly identity – our responsibilities, our family, our loss, our pains, our gains. To be free of tension means to be free of all these identities and attachments.
What is tension? Tension manifests in various parts of the body. Tired, sore muscles, aching joints, a feeling of “heaviness” in the body are all signs of stored-up tension in the body. And what does tension do to the brain? Headaches, hyper-anxiety, and an ill-temper are all signs of tension keeping the brain in a tightly locked, protective state. When the brain is over-active with worry and concern, depression or fear, one feels terrible, simply put. We are all aware of the mind – body – spirit as one, as this is at the core of the practice of yoga asanas. So when the brain is tight, the body is also tight and the spirit within cannot be set free.
Meditation allows our inner spirit to be set free. This freedom is the goal of our yoga practice. It is just being in the moment, an ego-less being in the present moment, not stuck in the past or future- formless and free. Savasana prepares us for meditation. In the practice of Savasana, like a corpse, we allow our body to lie on the floor and release all muscular, skeletal effort. The mind then immediately also relaxes as we consciously let go of every effort still lingering in the body. Yoga teachers guide their students through imagery into a relaxed, but aware state in the practice of Savasana. With practice, the student learns to quiet the brain, to still the noises of anxious thoughts. Once the brain has become quiet, tension leaves the body and mind naturally like a fog clearing as the morning sun rises.
Mr. Iyengar further adds: “By all means, relax, go to sleep even; we are all human, but in Savasana you are on the edge of a great mystery, and if Savasana is the most difficult of all postures, at least it has the saving grace that we can all lie on the floor as we attempt it.”
So be easy on yourself in the practice of Savasana. If you fall asleep, your body and mind probably need the rest. Do not judge yourself harshly for this. If you become frustrated with tumultuous thoughts preventing you from experiencing that state of formless inner bliss, practice letting go of one thought at a time, even the frustrating thought. Slowly but surely, over time, with consistent practice of Savasana, we will begin to shed our outer layers and experience peace within. Savasana is, therefore, the greatest gift that we can give to our Self.