Savasana. You either love that time at the end of practice where all you have to do is lay on your back and breathe, or you hate it. There really is no in between. There are classes where people sign up to voluntarily spend half the time in savasana. I’ve also been in classes where people walk out of the room during the cool down/relaxing portion of class, and that just breaks my heart. I get that appointments and commitments exist, but maybe, just for the time you’re in a yoga class, you carve out that entire time and commit it to you.
As I’d mentioned in an earlier blog about creating a home practice, savasana is debatably the most important part. I mean, just like the parts of the body, all the parts of the practice are important and they all have their role to play, but there’s a reason why so many yoga teachers tell you not not skip savasana. Actually, there are quite a few. Here are my top 5… countdown style.
5. It’s a time to absorb the practice.
You know how in the Matrix, all Neo had to do to learn was lay there and download all the information into his brain. Savasana’s kinda like that, except you’re downloading everything you did in your practice into your cells. It’s like reflecting on an event to store it in your memory, except you don’t have to think about it. In savasana, this just happens.
4. It resets the body.
During the physical, moving part of practice, the body warms up. The heart rate can increase. You might even sweat. In savasana, the body has a chance to cool down and bring the heart rate, breath, and body temperature back to normal. It even helps remove lactic acid!
3. It teaches you how to relax.
Some time during all the resetting, the body relaxes. The mind relaxes. You transfer from a state of doing in the sympathetic nervous system, and drop into a state of being in the parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, when you don’t have to go from one thing to the next, finish projects, or make funny shapes with your body; the body changes gears to decrease adrenaline levels and repair itself. The easier it becomes to drop into a state of relaxation and ease on the mat, the easier it will be to relax into life off the mat.
2. It teaches you how to let go.
In order to relax the mind, there needs to be a letting go: a releasing of all the thoughts, all the to dos, all the appointments, all the deadlines, etc. This doesn’t mean they don’t exist, they’re not important, or you don’t need to take care of them. It means that during this time on the mat, you don’t need to worry about them. You can set those things aside along with any need to control. Life can still go on.
1. It gives you time to be you.
After you’re done releasing all the thoughts and chatter in the mind and relaxing the body, you’re left with... yourself. This is one of the wonderful things about savasana. This is the time for you to take up space and allow yourself to settle into being you. Even if your thoughts are still going a million miles an hour, you always have the option to bring the mind back to the breath. Even if you’re not 100% relaxed and your nose itches or you can feel your shoulder blade in the ground, there’s still the option to adjust into a position of support that works for you and settle. In the sifting through the thoughts and finding ways to support yourself you become closer to your Self.
Much of yoga is an experiential practice. There’s only so much you can read about. In order to actually reap the benefits, understand, and feel; you have to do. You have to practice. According to Gregor Maehle, yoga teacher and author, “After practice, the body needs time to cool and settle. To jump up immediately and commence our daily pursuits can make one agitated and nervous. The calming, centering soothing effect of yoga practice can only arise when proper rest is taken afterward.”