The Journey of Savasana

The Journey of Savasana

Diving Into the Mystery, Remembering How to Let Go

“Remember fear for what it is, resistance to the unknown.” -Terry Tempest Williams

Pause, take a deep breath. Invite the possibility to read this article with a soft face and receptive eyes.

Intrigued by the experiences of letting go, deep rest and the healing which unfolds on this journey, this article dives into the questions and uncertainties which are at the essence of savasana.

First, consider when and where you take savasana?

What position do you come to rest in? And, are you really, lovingly, giving yourself an opportunity to let go?

Put on a few layers to be sure you are warm enough. A thick blanket over your body is a nice way to encourage the body’s surrender to gravity…like a gravity blanket resting over your skin layer. And, an eye pillow or a scarf over the eyes can really help to allow the eyes and brain cavity to relax into earth. Take adequate time to adjust and if you have aches and pains in your body, consider using props and bolsters to support yourself. Some options I like are a bolster behind the upper thigh bones, thin blocks under the backs of the palms (allows forearms and hands to soften), or a rolled up blanket in the hollow space behind the neck.

How much time to you give yourself? Or, how much time do you give your class, if you are a teacher? In this busy world of time, it seems that this universally beneficial posture often gets squeezed in, or used simply as a way to recover from a sweaty yoga class.

“It is to relinquish who you are and to let go of life’s concerns into the merest of being alive. Such letting go into the smooth presence of simple being is not the kind of visible, salable skill a businessman or a violinist might develop. But, it is not at all trivial. To really let go, to not try, not even a little, is its’ own kind of mastery.” -Robert Forman

Second, consider how you drop in and how you retreat from the posture?

Once you are set, settle and breathe. Feel the parts of your body that touch earth. Feel the parts of the body that touch sky. You are the space between earth and sky. Receive the breathe through the layers of your being. Explore flickering the eyes , open and closed, almost unconsciously, as you drop into savasana. This is almost a mimicry of the dying process, slowly, slowly, letting go.

Can you have an intention to let go and simultaneously receive the unfolding as it manifests inside of you?

When the time comes to retreat from the womb of savasana; pause.

Pause.

Feel the parts of your body that touch earth. Feel the parts of your body that touch sky. You are the space between earth and sky. Let the mystery unfold in the space between the inner landscape of your body and the outer landscape of this world. Absorb the residue which lingers, right now. However you are inspired to, move slowly towards seated.

Lastly, consider the broader questions/ideas below. Look inwards for the edges of relaxation and see what you find. For me, it’s smooth edges, endless space and deep mystery. It’s sometimes scary, sometimes sleepy, and always a journey of truth, which asks me to peel back the layers and really show up for the truth of my life.

  1. Does your yoga practice prepare you for savasana?

What is the transition like, for you, between movement and stillness?

When the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated throughout the yoga practice, it is much more natural for our whole being to move towards a state of letting go. Even in a dynamic movement flow, if the tone of the movement remains soft and fluid, we are much more in tune with the basic primal rhythms of life (primary respiration, heart-beat, breath, etc) and as a result we can more deeply merge with the earth energies as we relax into savasana.

  1. Why is it often referred to as the most important pose?

Given that one of the only certainties in life is death, facing our own mortality seems something interesting to ponder and even, perhaps, practice. And, perhaps facing death allows us to really come into contact with intentions for how we want to live our lives, here and now.

  1. Notice and embrace the shifts in your practice?

Resist labeling your savasana practice as good or bad. Some days, weeks or years, we are going through life events and relaxation is inevitably not easy. Rather then avoiding it all together, create a safe space and be gentle and open with yourself.

If you have had trauma in your life, savasana can often be the place where it resurfaces. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, just an opportunity to revisit and move through events, which are still residing in the tissues of our being.

“Once again there was a pervasive silence and once again I waited for the onset of fear to break it up. But this time the fear never came…within, all was still, silent and motionless. In the stillness, I was not aware of the moment when the fear and tension of waiting had left. Still I continued to wait for a movement not of myself and when no movement came, I simply remained in a great stillness…Once outside, I fully expected to return to my ordinary energies and thinking mind, but this day I had a difficult time because I was continually falling back into the great silence.” -Bernadette Roberts



Top 10 Yoga Poses for Headaches

Top 10 Yoga Poses for Headaches

Yoga can be a beneficial therapeutic tool for relieving headaches brought on by muscle tension and stress. The majority of headaches originate from muscle stiffness and imbalances emanating from the neck and upper back. When headaches set in, using a series of restorative yoga exercises can greatly relieve both the cause and symptoms. Here are our top yoga poses and exercises that naturally treat headaches.

cow pose

 

1. Cat Pose: The flowing motion of breath and spine helps release tension from the neck and upper back while also pouring refreshing energy through the body and mind.

 

Woman doing Seated Twists

 

2. Seated Twists: Besides increasing circulation throughout the entire length of the spine, the twisting motion in the upper spine (cervical region) often alleviates tension coming from the scalene muscles of the neck (anterior aspect).

 

Woman doing Chest Openers

 

3. Chest Openers: Much of the tension in the back body is a result of muscle dominance from the front body (called Upper Cross Syndrome). Expanding the chest and front shoulder muscles helps break down muscular imbalances and frees the tension coming from the neck.

 

 

4. Eagle Arms: This simple crossed arm pose can be done in Mountain Pose or any natural seated posture. This back expander can reach well into the mid and upper back targeting problematic muscles around the shoulder blades and the base of the neck. Take time in this arm pose to breath slow and full into the upper back and insure that you perform this arm pose on both sides.

 

 

5. Simple Neck Stretches: Gently move through the various muscle fiber lines by allowing your head to float down to one shoulder with gravity, down across the chest and into the other side – repeat with a natural, unforced motion. Avoid letting the head fall back-keep the motion in a half circle from one shoulder to the other. Pause where you find extra areas of resistance.

 

 

6. Child’s Pose: A perfect restorative yoga pose that slightly inverts the body. A gentle flow of extra blood circulates into the head helping relieve tension. With the legs slightly separated, you can easily settle into deep core and back breathing to encourage a flood of circulation to reach deep into the body. Note that the head and neck should be absolutely comfortable. If needed, keep you arms forward or bend the elbows and rest the forearms by your chest/under your shoulders so the palms face up-this will greatly unload any pressure from the neck.

 

 

7. Two Knee Reclining Twist: Unlike our seated twists, this reclining twist can be far more restorative and held longer to bring deeper focus into relaxing the nervous system while the chest expands and rejuvenates the spine. Give extra attention to releasing the shoulders into the mat to release dominance of the shoulder and chest muscles.

 

Woman doing Legs Up Wall Pose

 

8. Legs Up The Wall Pose: This highly beneficial inverted pose is great for developing hamstring flexibility and for improving circulation in the lower limbs. For headaches, the extra flow of blood to the brain and the restorative support can be deeply relaxing and nourishing.

 

Woman doing Alternate Nostril Breathing

 

9. Alternate Nostril Breathing: The aim of alternate nostril breathing is to restore balance to the energy systems. With balance, we find release and calm. This yoga breathing exercise is easy to do for all levels and targets the nervous system by slowing brain waves, calming the mind, and purging stress.

 

Woman doing Relaxation Pose

 

10. Relaxation Pose: After doing a series of restorative yoga poses, take some time to simply relax and release in Savasana. Turn the focus away from the symptoms of your headache and settle into the sensation of mental and physical release. You may find a light eye pillow helpful in moving tension/pressure out of the eyes and forehead. Increase your comfort by placing a bolster under the knees and a thin pillow under the head. To complement the chest openers and reclining twists, lay with the arms open to the sides/palms facing the ceiling.

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