I thought I knew about savasana because I do it regularly. But I don’t recall ever practicing savasana; neither have I heard of others practicing it. I’ve seldom heard people talk about savasana as a separate subject. There are few instructions, and I’ve never seen any hands-on adjustment or correction to savasana.
Maybe we don’t talk about savasana because yogis think it’s easy, and because we don’t practice savasana, we might think that anyone can do it with little preparation. In a sense, it’s the anti-asana, a time when all movement has stopped.
But the entry point into savasana is equally as important as our entry point into practice. For our yoga sessions, we prepare with meditation or breathing exercises. We set our intentions or dedications, and by active imagination, create mental space with a positive memory or feeling. These steps help us elevate mind/body readiness when starting our practice and then carry it through the session.
But recently, at the end of a one-hour session, I was moved when the teacher said, “release yourself into savasana.” The statement was a fresh way for me to hear how to prepare for that moment.
Up to that point in class, I was engaged mentally and physically with the moving meditation of asana. At times, I find myself taking mental notes on my alignment, paying attention to my breathing, or monitoring how I’m feeling. Sometimes, I fall into the ego trap of self-consciousness. I wonder how I look and then I’m left to deal with self-recrimination for my self-centeredness.
Release into savasana is a marvelous phrase and a powerful reminder to let go of my mental wrestling. Savasana enables me to drop that which does not serve me. In a larger inflatable slide sense, to release means to loosen my grip. And the more I meditate on savasana, the more I realize that I – and maybe you – hold tightly to life and its demands. It’s important to get a grip on our lives, but it doesn’t have to be a stranglehold.
By releasing into savasana the sounds of other yogis breathing, the teacher’s voice, or soft music dissolves, and I am brought home to that place of peace, the heartbeat of the cosmos, where we are all ONE.
Perhaps this is why participation in yoga is growing. Many of us long for a place to release our grip – and we desperately need moments when the noise dissolves. We thirst for moments of freedom from our ego and its grasp. We require a savasana to help us soften our ego-investment in this life with its obsessions on upward mobility shaped by old fashioned hierarchical structures.
The sacred space of savasana may allow us to see clearly – if only for a moment or two – but when this happens, our parting ‘namaste’ at the end of class is truly an offering of our best self to the other. The final savasana and ‘namaste’ opens us to receive the blessings from the gathered yogis.
Release into savasana is a time to peel away from the manic world with all its violence and strife. And for anyone vexed by the demands of this world, yoga offers a solution: get to a class, and at the end of your beautiful hour, release into savasasana.
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