by Mauro Quattrociocchi
At the end of every yoga class, the teacher guides students into Savasana (corpse pose) and almost as quick as most people’s head hit their mat, there are some getting up to leave (you know who you are!). What is it about Savasana that makes so many people want to leave before even getting into this pose? Most people don’t even realise it is a pose! Many teachers have said it, and I would agree, it is the most difficult pose to master. Savasana gives your body and mind an opportunity to process what just happened during class. Getting up and leaving before you have a chance to absorb the practice kind of defeats the whole point of showing up. In the Little Moksha Yoga Book, Jessica Robertson and Ted Grand describe Savasana as “the most nourishing and invigorating posture for the body. Savasana calms the nervous system, and in doing so improves digestion, decreases mood swings, regulates your sleep/wake cycle, and enhances your immune system”. All of these benefits from this one pose where seemingly, all we have to do is nothing. But there in lies the problem most people have. Doing nothing. Most people today can’t be still, even for 10 min. They don’t know how to. They are in a constant state of movement, of doing, of being bombarded by technology or thinking about the future or of the past that they neglect to be in the moment and just, well, be.
I recently read a book entitled Mindfulness Yoga in which the author Frank Jude Boccio, studied various yogic texts (Hindu as well as Buddhist) and talks about trying to stay mindful, aware and present, not only in our yoga practice but in our everyday life. There was a passage that stood out even before I started to write this blog. “…our first practice is to learn how to stop! In order to be able to see clearly, we must first stop and calm our mind-stop the habit energies, stop our forgetfulness and stop our constant running after one thing or another…our practice is to simply stop and see”. At its core it is a basic premise but for many of us, slowing down or stopping it may seem like the most difficult thing to do. This passage made me think of a drive that I had taken a couple of years ago in which I drove the beautiful Highway 1 in California, from Santa Monica to San Francisco. This typical 5 hour drive took me 2 days! It was stunning. Driving on a one lane highway with a cliff on one side and the ocean on the other. Every turn was more beautiful than the next. I stopped in as many turn offs along side the road as I could to take in the beauty of the Earth in that exact spot at that exact time. I would have missed it all if I didn’t stop to see it clearly.
Savasana allows us to stop and see. It allows us to learn how to control not only our body but also our mind, and our emotions by simply being aware and present and not doing anything. Have you ever tried laying in Savasana only to have you mind race with thoughts? So has everyone else. This little voice is referred to as our monkey mind and it wants to be active and constant all the time. One way to be present is to come back to our breath. Try not to focus on your thoughts but also not to fight them. Just let them pass and instead, bring your attention back to your inhales and exhales. Don’t control your breathing. Just notice. It will take practice. Take the time at the end of your class and practice Savasana. Maybe take 10 minutes at home or at work to practice Savasana. Forget about all the poses on social media that you see everyday, this is the pose that will truly take you a lifetime to master. You can master it one breath at a time.
AWARE OF AN IN-BREATH AS AN IN-BREATH, I BREATHE IN.
AWARE OF AN OUT-BREATH AS AN OUT-BREATH, I BREATHE OUT.
BREATHING IN A LONG BREATH, I AM AWARE OF BREATHING IN A LONG BREATH.
BREATHING OUT A LONG BREATH, I AM AWARE OF BREATHING OUT A LONG BREATH.
BREATHING IN A SHORT BREATH, I AM AWARE OF BREATHING IN A SHORT BREATH .
BREATHING OUT A SHORT BREATH, I AM AWARE OF BREATHING OUT A SHORT BREATH.
BREATHING IN, I AM AWARE OF MY WHOLE BODY.
BREATHING OUT, I AM AWARE OF MY WHOLE BODY.
BREATHING IN I CALM MY WHOLE BODY.
BREATHING OUT I CALM MY WHOLE BODY.