As I lie on my mat after a powerful hot yoga class, I feel the intensity of the collective vibration of an Om chant, and the rhythmic, peaceful energy in the Shanti, Shanti, Shanti chant that followed. I had what I guess would be considered a “successful” savasana. I allowed my breath to guide my release. I detached from my thoughts and my body.
My meditation catapulted me into a state of bliss, not because of any outside circumstance, but simply because in that moment, I was whole, my vibration high, and my attachments… gone. It was the most powerful meditation I’ve had without being guided with words or sound of any kind. Nothing could hurt me because I would simply adjust my sails and shift my perspective. In that moment I felt more powerful than ever.
The realization of the power in every single being in the room was clear, as well. In that moment, I was powerful yet detached from the idea of my own personal power. I just… was. It was a true experience of wholeness and nothingness simultaneously existing.
Savasana Is A Yoga Pose
Savasana is perhaps the most important part of yoga practice. It is also considered the most difficult pose. Lying on your back, arms and legs are spread out at about 45 degrees, the eyes are closed and the breath deep. Our whole body is relaxed onto the floor with our awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each breath. The body is scanned for tension of any kind, which is released with intention as it is found.
This asana is released by slowly deepening the breath, flexing the fingers and toes, bringing awareness back to the body, maybe reaching the arms above the head, and stretching. We exhale, bringing our knees to our chest, and rolling over to the side in a fetal position. After a slow inhalation, we then take a seated position.
Very often, I find there’s nothing to release. The asana never actually began for me. Yes, I was relaxed. My mind, however, never released. Not for a moment. The experience I described above is not one that I can achieve with ease.
Ride The Wave - Resistance Is Futile
Savasana is like swimming in the ocean. On some days the current of our thoughts surrender to the waves of our breath as we float through this meditative state freely. We ride the waves of energy moving through our body and release the tension that our thoughts create with ease. Our minds fall away. The waves of prana carry our heavy thoughts effortlessly through the depths of a vast sea of contentment just waiting to be uncovered. We can detach from fear, worry, and attachment.
On other days, after our practice, we resist. With this resistance comes the crashing down of our thoughts, like powerful waves that we try to swim against. The harder we resist worry and ideas, thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow crash upon us with great force. Class ends and we realize that Savasana never quite began.
Ocean waves crash violently during a storm. Our thoughts can be just as harmful to our field of energy, lowering our vibration. This can open us up to illness and negativity. Just as weather patterns contribute to rising ocean levels and waves become larger building momentum under certain conditions; our negative thoughts gain momentum as we allow this cycle of resistance to come crashing down like a violent wave in our mind. Taming the mind can be the hardest part of our practice.
We can, however, change our thoughts about difficult poses such as Savasana.
Spiritual Practice Vs. Asana
Everyone has different reasons for practicing yoga. For some, it is because the asanas (physical postures) help us feel good, give us strength and balance, as we enjoy the feeling of using our bodies through yoga practice.
For others, the journey through yoga is more of a spiritual practice; bringing the union of body, mind, and spirit off of the mat and into everyday life. Our goal is finding comfort in the discomfort of our circumstances and emotions, just as we do in challenging poses. As we practice walking a spiritual path of mindfulness, self-actualization, a lasting experience of mental clarity and connection with spirit is the ultimate result.
Whatever our reasons are for practicing, we need not judge them. Regardless of our personal reasons, Savasana is a very important part of yoga practice because it allows us to reap the benefits of our physical endeavors. It enables us to bring yoga from asana into self-awareness through meditation.
Labels Aren’t Always Negative
Very often, as I try to meditate while lying is Savasana, my monkey mind swings from one thought to the next. It’s important not to judge this process. When we detach from judgment and simply label what is happening internally, thoughts lose their power and release becomes easier. It’s a detached way of observing the mind. We can focus on simple in and out breath just as we do in our postures, breathing through whatever discomfort may come. As we focus on our inhalation and exhalation, our collar bones rise and fall, our belly extends and falls back, air flows in and out...
We can focus on these physical occurrences and simplify the pose. When thoughts come, we can simply label them “thinking.” That is all. “Thoughts”. “Thinking”.
As we simply observe the body and mind we are also able to simplify the meditation.
Like with any practice, it takes just that: Practice.
We can practice riding these waves of thought. We can allow them to come, as we commit to being a silent observer rather than a judge. With practice we can release the pattern of exhausting ourselves as we try to swim against the current of our minds. We can set the hardest pose in motion on the tides of observance. We can try to take this practice off of our mat and into the world.