Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Savasana, शवासन

I have a shirt that reads 'I'm just here for savasana'...and I always mean it. The first day of teacher training I'll never forget that this was the 'favorite asana' choice for both Patrick and myself. I am of the opinion that this is the most important asana for many, many reasons. For me it is the point of asana practice, the silence of the practice's OM cycle. This is where everything comes together. I once had a teacher describe asana practice in the following manner, and it has stuck with me through the years: The first part of practice is to tire the body, the second to tire the mind, and all of this work leads to savasana-a time to rest the body and mind and connect with the universal. Savasana to me is important for all 5 of our koshas: annamayakosha needs rest to recuperate after physical stresses. As a chiropractic student, I can fully appreciate that the intervertebral discs loose fluid into the vertebral bodies as we go through our day as they are subjected to stresses; asana practice results in even more stresses and therefore, lying on the floor allows the spine to return to 'neutral'. The pranamayakosha takes rest in allowing the body to return to natural rhythms with no stresses or control, you drop the ujayii breath and your heart rate can slow to a resting state. Manomayakosha can drop everything, unlike in meditation there is no need to call it back from wandering as long as you don't force it to stick to a point. The mind can drift freely here and rest in the present. Vijnanamayakosha is also given the opportunity to take rest. In savasana the Anandamayakosha is leading the way. You feel limitless and content! Of course, as a rule I always practice a decent savasana at the end of asana practice. But it is easy to let all of this 'theory' be forgotten and/or unappreciated with regular practice. Today I did NOT get a chance to practice savasana after yoga club practice because I had to skip out of class early in order to get our lovely teachers paychecks approved. My thinking was that I would be able to slip in a savasana after the meeting, however it ran later than expected and I had to run to class for three more hours! Not practicing savasana after practice left me in a terrible state! I felt as if I hadn't slept in days and had been guzzling coffee like mad. Hopefully, you don't know that drained yet really awake feeling. As soon as I was home, I hit the floor and took a very indulgent savasana. Following that 15 minutes I once again felt grounded and fresh. Mr. Iyengar notes that savasana is the most difficult posture. He likens it to a shedding of the ego, taking a rest from all of the labels and to-do lists that we carry around with us always. He states that while in savasana you have the opportunity to experience formlessness and timelessness. And since this is so hard, we get to lie down while we practice this!

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