Class is coming to an end. You’ve gotten your butt and your brains kicked and there’s a moment that you wonder if you’ll survive to savasana. You know that moment I’m talking about: the sweat on your brow has merged with your entire face so by the time you defeat the mind demons who have declared war on your psyche while
wincing breathing through pigeon pose, you’re not sure if that moisture is sweat or tears [and you realize it’s probably both].
You lift your body up, releasing the bent knee and allowing that quivering hip to breathe, and you start to flow through the rest of the closing sequence. Maybe this time when the rest of the class is in plow, you opt for legs up the wall. Maybe the teacher guides you to a little fishy-fishy – maybe a supta baddha or two. Whatever you choose to do, you’re starting to move a little slower. You’re pretty certain that this is IT! and rest is on the way. And then…
She [or he, VY is a equal opportunity yogini] says it – the sweetest words ever uttered by a yoga teacher:
There is no more doing.
That phrase is music to your little elfin ears [and maybe they really do stick up a bit elfishly – that is totally ok, maybe we can start a whole elfin yogi tribe]. You’re so ready to veg out in savasana as a reward for such a grueling practice…. Then it happens: your previously quiet mind starts racing once you stop moving for a few moments. Oh my God, what is this? Shuuuuuuuuuuuuuuush, brain! This is supposed to be the relaxing part!
Oh no, says your monkey mind, this is the real practice – the yoga has just begun!
[Yoga is a little charlatan monkey sometimes!]
Because easy as it is to forget, savasana does not equal sleep. “No more doing” means no more hoisting all 143 lbs. of yourself into pincha mayurasana, no more propping your entire body onto one arm in side plank [engage your abs, people!]. Savasana is an actual pose – albeit, it’s called “corpse” pose – but a pose nonetheless. It may be physically passive but we all know there’s a heck of a lot going on there. Savasana is the time to reel in that monkey mind and soak up the benefits of your physical practice.
It’s also important to remember not to lose focus at this point. Relax each and every bit of your being and watch yourself – notice what’s going on inside [you might be surprised]. Your physical practice might be over but, whether you like it or not, an entirely different [and vital] practice has begun. It’s the same practice you bring with you the moment you step off your mat and back into the world – and THAT is where the real work begins.
So, the next time you have that Aaaaah, I can relax now! moment, remember: The end is just the beginning.
How do you practice savasana? Do you feel peaceful or antsy? What words or phrases do your teachers (or you!) use to signal the end of physical rigor and the beginning of savasana?