Forget about endless Chaturanga.
Savasana might just be the most challenging pose for many type-A yogis. Even B.K.S. Iyengar himself admits that, “It is much harder to keep the mind than the body still. Therefore, this apparently easy posture is one of the most difficult to master.”
In the end, it is my great hope that all yogis will allow themselves the luxury of Savasana. Not only do you deserve it, you also need it (and so does everyone else in the room).
All appearances to the contrary, Savasana is really where the action is. Next time you decide to bail on Savasana (or find a way to ruin it!) here are five ways you might be inadvertently ruining one of yoga's greatest gifts to you:
1. You blow it off.
Why not just save yourself the time and hit the showers early?
In all fairness I understand the life of a busy person, but if you’re really trying to save time in the long run (even though "nothing’s happening") these may not be the 10 minutes you want to eliminate from your schedule.
Savasana is much more than just a break from all the physical poses you’ve been practicing.
It’s a necessary part of the yoga practice whereby the body can actually absorb and take in all the benefits of the past hour (or more) of physical poses. In any class, you’ve opened the hips and heart, stretched the spine and maybe even gone upside down. Your body needs a moment to reset and take it all in. The asanas are what prepares us for meditation in this final resting pose.
As Iyengar writes “By remaining motionless for some time and keeping the mind still while you are fully conscious, you learn to relax. This conscious relaxation invigorates and refreshes both body and mind.”
And isn’t that why you were taking class in the first place?
2. You make yourself nice and uncomfortable.
You are not a machine with an on/off switch. You must find a way to relax that is best for you!
Always honor your personal preferences with Savasana. For example, if you are particularly light sensitive, then grab an eye pillow (or bring your own). If your lower back can be prickly, place a bolster or some rolled up blankets under your knees. And if the temperature suddenly seems subarctic to you, mummify yourself in blankets.
Remember that it’s your practice, so if some small adjustment before Savasana allows you to truly relax and go deeper, you should take advantage of that 100%.
3. You fidget (the entire time) until you think you're perfectly content.
While of course one should “get comfy” when settling into Savasana, there comes a point when you’ve got to draw the line in the sand and stop adjusting your outfit and hairdo and scratching every little itch.
Waiting for the perfect conditions for anything (whether it’s Savasana or starting a novel or a family) just means that you’re delaying the process since perfect conditions rarely arise.
You may not be able to downshift seamlessly without some adjustments, but ultimately you will just have to just settle down and decide to be still before you can really settle in.
4. You decide that you haven’t had quite enough of a workout and that now is the time to turn things up a notch.
Wallis Simpson famously quipped “You can never be too rich or too thin,” and for some yogis the same is true for “sweaty.”
No matter how challenging I try to make a class, there’s often someone for whom no workout will suffice. While everyone else lies silent and blissed out, they will feel the need to complete another hundred bicycle crunches.
Like with any hyperactive toddler, I usually hope they will quickly tire themselves out. (If that doesn’t happen, I whisper “Hush now…it’s nap time.”)
(FYI, not only is your private workout eliminating your chance of a successful Savasana, it’s probably annoying the person next to you, too.)
5. You leave right in the middle of it.
This is another terrific way to ruin things not just for yourself but for lots of other people, too.
There is no way of winning with this approach. If you try to be quiet and tidy while rolling up your mat and putting away your props, you just create more disturbance around you. And if you’re in a studio with a cubbyhole in the back of the room, it’s guaranteed to require some rumbling to get your bag and/or stepping on someone in the back row as you putter around.
Besides the burst of light when the door opens, minor sonic booms often occur. This is particularly jarring when maybe another class next door is in the middle of an aerobic workout with a teacher on a Madonna headset cheerleading “Just five more!” to his or her throng.
Trust me, no matter how stealthy you think your exit strategy is, you are no Savasana ninja. You are definitely affecting the other people around you and not in a good way. So lay down, try to relax and let yourself enjoy it!
Edward Vilga's last yoga book/DVD hit #1 on amazon.com after he was on REGIS & KELLY, featured in PEOPLE and 50 other magazines, and has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
His new book is a novel, DOWNWARD DOG (Diversion Book; paperback release June 2014) about a Bad Boy NYC yoga teacher. It has already been optioned for a film by Producer Sarah Finn, casting director of over 50 films including the Best Picture Oscar Winner CRASH, Oliver Stones last three movies, the IRON MAN SERIES, and THE AVENGERS.