As someone with a Type A personality, the pose that challenges me the most in my yoga practice is S avasana. At the end of a sweaty sequence of poses, I feel on my game and ready to take on my day. I want to get up, shower off, and go. I’ve got coffee to drink and pages to write. I don’t want to lay down and feel the chaos of my mind swirling and pulsating against my forehead. Regardless of how aesthetically strong my practice looks, while laying in S avasana I sometimes feel like a failure. Does this pose ever get easier? Will the noise in my head ever quiet? And what exactly am I supposed to be doing anyway?
I decided to start asking for guidance. Many of the teachers I practice with hang around after the class is over to answer our questions, so I decided to start asking: “Could you please explain S avasana to me?”
This is what I learned:
That sounds very morbid, so let me elaborate. In death, everything that you believe represents who you are disappears: your possessions, your relationships, your occupation, your purpose. What would it feel like to be without all of these things? In corpse pose, for a moment, you’re asked to consider this. And then, unlike in real death, you get to wake up and rejoin your life. Perhaps with a new sense of gratitude.
Practicing S avasana is a way of teaching yourself that you are deserving of rest. Your life is not all work. This moment of bliss is also your life. It’s important to celebrate your achievements. Constantly jumping from one thing to the next will probably end in burn out (been there), so it’s a good idea to remind yourself that you’re human, and that rest is part of your jam.
All of us, for the most part, are plugged in now. If you’re like me, it might not be uncommon for you to slide your headphones into your ears during a walk home to listen to a podcast. Kill two birds with one stone. We collectively love being productive, but in S avasana we’re encouraged to do only one thing: be with ourselves. What does it feel like to be you? What does it feel like to breathe as you? These are some of the questions this pose opens up to our consciousness, if you’re ready to answer them. There’s no right answer by the way. There’s only your answer.
Along with asking us to consider death, this pose also asks us to consider life. And by life, I mean breath. Which is basically the essence of life. With nothing to ‘do’, the only option available is to be and allow your body to breathe. To not breathe for your body, but allow your body to breathe for you. Because breathing is something that our bodies do very naturally. Do you know how to receive? Savasana teaches us how to receive life and nourishment from the world around us, in a way that is separated from action.
This isn’t one I was told, but rather one I observed after attending a midnight yoga class to welcome in the new year. Ten minutes before the clock struck midnight, we were transitioned into S avasana with the help of a live musician (it was crazy magical). At midnight, the yoga teacher said very quietly ‘happy new year, and the entire class woke into the new year together. We woke into this universal new beginning. I realized in that moment how connected we all are. Every day is a new beginning isn’t it? And no matter where you’re practicing, there is comfort in realizing that as you wake out of S avasana , you’re being joined somewhere by your peers.
As for the question I posed at the beginning of this article: will this pose ever get easier? I think that the challenges I face now with the pose will get easier the more consistently I practice, but as they dissipate, new ones will take their place. Such is the practice of life. Such is the practice of yoga.
Maybe these suggestions were helpful to you too.
And I’m curious. How has savasana had an impact on you? Please leave a comment below.
Christine Bissonnette is a writer, spoken word poet and actor. Curious about creativity and the courage it takes to have ideas and to communicate them in an empowered way, she shares her conversations with creatives, personal explorations and spoken word poetry on her site. You can also follow her on Instagram: @ChristineMarthe