First things first… if you’re a total newbie; you’re probably like, what the heck is “Savasana????”. Savasana (said “Sha-vah-sah-nah”) is the final pose we do in a Yoga session. You will hear time and time again that this is the most important pose and I agree – it’s the time your body and your mind need to soak up all the Good Ju-Ju your Yoga practice got moving through your body. What the heck is “Good Ju-Ju”? A phrase I totally made up to describe the feelings of well-being you achieve in Yoga.
“Good Ju-Ju” is the hippy-dippy way of explaining what laying on your back for 10 minutes or so can do. There is science to Savasana which includes but is not limited to:
- Reduced heart rate;
- Reduced blood pressure;
- Decreased muscle tension;
- Increased focus, productivity, and general well-being.
How do you “do” Savasana? Simply put – you lay on your back and you try your best to think about nothing. Easier said than done for most…
I recently had an interesting conversation with one of my students. We were talking about Savasana and “getting into it” and she expressed how frustrated she became last week when I played a song she didn’t like during Savasana… in fact, she confessed she became quite agitated and couldn’t relax at all.
Here’s what I said first: A song you don’t like during Savasana? That’s a first world problem if I’ve ever heard one. I had the same experience this morning when I went to practice outside and the dog had pooped right where I wanted to put my mat… Gawd, I was so ridiculously angry. I have a huge backyard and there were lots of spots to choose from. We get so attached to things and really just need to calm the eff down!
My student asked if tuning out the song was the solution and my answer was “No”. Don’t tune out what you don’t like about a situation…. that’s our Western problem… always looking for the numbness… Here were some of the tips I offered:
- Get Comfortable: Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get more comfy. Place a bolster under your hamstrings, elevate your head a tiny bit, cover yourself with a blanket, put on some socks, take off your glasses. This is not a time to be a hero – this is about taking at least 10 minutes or so to make yourself deliciously relaxed.
- Manage your expectations: Just like your entire Yoga practice… some days you can express a pose deeply some days you can barely touch your toes. The same goes for our brains. I personally always find the first Savasana after an especially rich session is always the hardest. I want to experience those sensations again. Over time try to develop an “It is what it is” attitude. You will come to realize that becoming frustrated completely defeats the purpose!
- Give yourself permission to enjoy the relaxation: This is very hard for many. Especially those with “Inner Squirrels”… No “to-do” list was ever completed during Savasana. Just chill baby and the focus you gain during this time will help you kick-ass for the rest of your day!
- Feel the Feels and Let Them Go: Sometimes (like most of the time) Yoga creates emotional responses in our bodies and our minds. The best thing to do in this instance is to accept what you’re feeling without judgment or re-living the experiences that created these emotions and then let them go. If you need to let a tear or two fall – let them out. Many, many, many people cry during Savasana.
- Find Your Best Tools: We all discover the best ways to relax ourselves over time. Some count their breath. Some focus on a Mantra. Some “feel” the energy around their bodies, some imagine they are floating, some imagine they are sinking… The secret is to not get frustrated with your mind: Accept it for the Toddler-like essence that it is and when it wanders off – gently grab it by the hand and distract it with whatever works.
- Ask For Help: Yoga teachers love to talk about Yoga! If you have an experience you would like to share, or frustrations, or questions don’t be afraid to ask!
I can’t offer many guarantees to you about Yoga – except this one. As difficult and frustrating as Savanasa can be when you first start practicing; it will become your favourite pose. “Start to come back to your body…” will be the words you most hate to hear and wiggling your fingers and wiggling your toes will be the greatest physical task of your Yoga Practice.