Tips for my Fellow Teachers and Students So Relaxation Is More Satisfying.
To start with, my dear yoga teacher:
Don’t get me wrong, I love your class—but it’s time to set things straight. You’re ruining my relaxation groove. I need time, some uninterrupted time, to assimilate the practice and transition back into my day.
I understand that there will always be distractions during savasana (final relaxation pose)—once a parade went by, complete with marching bands—and I should be able to relax no matter what the circumstance. I usually can. But some disruptions are easy to eliminate, and my time in savasana will be even more satisfying.
If I settled into savasana several minutes ago, don’t come around to adjust me. Your window of opportunity has passed. Do I not look comfortable enough? Will I be more comfortable if you press my shoulders down until my elbows hyperextend? You wouldn’t have to smooth my brow if I hadn’t been frowning upon feeling your hands unexpectedly placed on me, accentuating that giant wrinkle I get in my forehead. What is it you’re doing with my neck anyway, besides trying to move my hair out of your way? And please don’t surprise me with one of those communal, germ-laden eyebags that I’m a bit squeamish about. At least give me a tissue first, or, better yet, offer me the eyebag beforehand and I’ll put it on myself if I choose. No matter what you’re trying to do, what you’ve actually done is jarred me into a more alert state, the opposite of what savasana is ultimately about.
I come to your class because the vibration is good, but that vibration in the floor caused by you walking around the room during savasana—not so good. Sure, I’m still relaxed, but I would be more relaxed if I didn’t sense your footsteps as you adjust all 20 students in the room or even leave the room to use the restroom or chat at the front desk. And now that I’m in a still and quiet place, don’t forget that your stomach is especially acoustic as you lean over me to make adjustments.
Most importantly, please don’t shorten savasana, or worse yet, skip it entirely, in an attempt to squeeze another arm balance into the class. And if we’re doing anything after savansana, it had better be seated meditation. I’d like to maintain my relaxed state at least to the parking lot.
So unless you plan to wow me with some life changing massage techniques or there are only a few students in the room, stay away from me! Let me chill on my own. I’ll keep returning to your class because of it.
Now, Dear Fellow Yoga Student:
Perhaps you don’t think savasana is a good use of your next five to 10 minutes, but don’t disrupt it for me. It is not cool to leave class during relaxation. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who can hear you rolling up your mat, pushing open the door, and not even bothering to ensure it latches softly behind you, no matter how quiet you’re trying to be (and, clearly, some of you aren’t even trying). Assembling your belongings and putting on your shoes during relaxation is equally distracting.
I understand that relaxation can be challenging for a variety of reasons, but before you disrupt my savasana time, try giving in. Savasana is not something you work at, it’s something you allow to happen. Let go and enjoy your breath.
If you still can’t get in the relaxation groove (forcing doesn’t help), you have my permission to let your mind wander, but continue to lie still. Maybe you can use this time to prioritize your tasks for the rest of your day.
If lying on your back is uncomfortable, try walking your feet in toward your hips, widening your feet to mat distance apart, resting your knees together and bringing your toes slightly in toward midline. If emotions are overwhelming, roll to your side in a fetal position with your bottom arm as a pillow under your head.
Dealing with a cold or allergies? Try a seated meditation position if you’re coughing or having difficulty breathing.
If you snore a little, I understand. But if your snoring is the consistent and disruptive type, try bringing your legs a little closer together and the arms closer to the sides of the body. This will create a bit of muscular tension that may just keep you awake.
I love savasana and I know in time you’ll learn to love it too.
Thank you both,
Erin Mathiason is a yoga teacher in Denver, approaching twenty years of yoga practice and study. Additionally, she is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Yoga Historian, Laughter Yoga Leader, and spiritual seeker. She can be found at www.hathayogawitherin.com.
Editor: James Carpenter