In teacher training, we were taught to say that relaxation (savasana) is the most important part of class.
My teacher always emphasized not skipping out on savasana, as it gave the nervous system time to integrate the practice and the mind and heart a time to be still.
At that time, I didn’t understand exactly why it was so important to lie perfectly still for seven to 20 minutes at the end of practice. When I took my first yoga class over 15 years ago, I couldn’t quiet my mind, and savasana was my least favorite part of yoga. In fact, I always looked at the clock before relaxation, feeling that inner urge to run instead of rest—to do instead of be, to push instead of allow.
I didn’t get it.
In fact, it took me a year of practice and a life tragedy to really get that thing we call relaxation and release.
Once I got it, there was no turning back. I found I craved my next session on the mat of purely letting go—feeling the heaviness of my body, the softening of my heart and the incredible quiet in my mind. I wondered sometimes if I craved that stillness too much.
Is there such a thing as too much relaxation? Too much surrender? Never.
Taking Savasana into the Home.
Here I am today, a full-time yoga instructor and single mom to a very precocious five-year-old daughter. My practice is my sacred time. I normally practice before my little girl, Wren wakes up or after she goes to sleep. There are some days, however, when I roll out my mat right in front of her and settle into a yin or restorative asana. On these days, I always invite her to join. She rarely says yes, preferring to play beside me—and sometimes on me (those are not the most relaxing practices!).
Last week, I was feeling the need for relaxation and release. I started to do some yin while Wren played with some toys nearby. I turned on my heating pad, which has been my bestie on my mat during our spring-turned-winter weather in the Northeast. Suddenly, as I was lying in a one-legged twist, the heat on my back melting my muscles into a state of otherworldly delight, I felt it was time for savasana. I tucked a bolster under my upper thighs and placed a sandbag over my torso for added support, turned my palms face up with my arms extended, and closed my eyes.
What I experienced in my spontaneous savasana was a deep sense of peace and comfort. Suddenly, I was transported to the land of no suffering, and my mind, heart and body merged into one joyous ball of being. I set a timer and let my body be my wake-up guide.
My little one sensed my peace and asked to lie on the mat when I finally rolled to my side and sat up to finish my practice with a mudra meditation.
I got Wren all tucked in under the double Mexican blankets, with a little cervical roll under the nape of her neck. She was instantly quiet, her normally busy mind seemed to calm, judging by the softness of her open-eyed gaze. I sat in a chair with a magazine in hand, feeling that sense of calm presence my practice always recalls. Instead of reading, I just watched Wren. This girl who fought napping for the first three years of her life was in a state of open-eyed savasana that was so beautiful to observe.
I let her lie there for about 10 minutes, then asked how she felt.
“I’m comfy and cozy, Mama,” she said to me. “It feels hard to get up!” She went to sleep with more ease that night than she had in eons, and slept soundly. Before she fell asleep she said, “I like being comfy and cozy, Mama, it’s my favorite thing!”
What Savasana Is.
Savasana is not just lying on the floor and breathing. Savasana is about being present—present with the feeling of the body, the sensations, thoughts, feelings—and beginning to let go. Savasana is about surrender.
Surrender means being with all that is without resistance.
How to Create a Cozy Corner.
The intention to relax and release is enough. Every house—whether you’re single, have children, have pets, or live in a co-operative—deserves a cozy spot. Yogically, being on the floor is best for the spine. But with an intention to relax and release, a few quiet minutes and the sound of your own breath, you can make any area a cozy area.
In our household, we have a spot in the living room for a yoga mat and props and a heating pad that plugs into the wall (totally optional, of course!). Music is also optional. I have a fountain in the room that lulls me into that quiet stillness.
Warning: Your cozy spot may be contagious!
Friends, clients and family members that walk into my living room tell me how peaceful it feels. When we practice, we shift the energy of the room! (If you’re in doubt of this, try it out!)
Have fun setting up your cozy corner just the way you like it. And, if you end up with one in each room, well, you just may never want to leave home!
Author: Sarah Lamb
Editor: Toby Israel