The first few days back from vacation are always the toughest. This morning I'm definitely feeling that post-vacay mood and am moving around rather slowly. Today's #MoveItMonday matches my sloth-like state and is often just as hard of a move to execute as the first few days back from vacation feel. I'm not talking about anything crazy like a box jump or burpee which are absolutely challenging. I'm talking about a yoga pose of total relaxation which for a lot of us is equally just as hard to do...today I'm talking about savasana, or corpse pose.
Why savasana and why is it so hard?
Savasana is the final resting pose in nearly every yoga class. It's where you take the final few minutes of the class to lay completely still, body totally relaxed and focus mindfully on bringing awareness to your breath. For a lot of us, myself included, taking these moments to intentionally stop all movement and just be is a challenge. We are often moving quickly from one thing to the next with a million to-do's running through our brains that shutting all of that off for three to ten minutes is next to impossible.
When the instructor says it's time to settle into savasana, I'm always a little surprised, though not really, that half of the class gets up to leave and skips this important finisher to class. Savasana is one of those poses that's a little intimidating because we find it so difficult to turn everything off and be one with ourselves. There isn't any movement to work through or effort to focus our physical attention on. Even though it might not feel like it, savasana actually is a total body release (effort) and it's quite important to our well being.
Taken from an article from Ekhart Yoga on why savasana is so important...
Release: this pose can help bring about a deep state of rest which can help to release stress and muscular tension
Rejuvenate: after an energetic practice it can help ‘reset’ the body temperature, calm the central nervous system and bring the breath back to normal.
Integrate: it gives you a chance to absorb the benefits of the practice, enabling you to knit together the body, mind and breath
I love that this article referenced above dispells this common myth of unproductivity while in savasana. That many of us don't want to take five minutes to be still in savasana because if we aren't moving or doing, crossing things off our list then we aren't being productive. Taking this time in savasana to calm and reset the body could be just the thing you need to reinstill the productivity we are looking for.
However, often when we lay still, our brains go into overdrive thinking of what's next on the list, what groceries we need, whether or not we put the laundry in the dryer or what's going to happen next week on The Handmade's Tale. The trick with savasana or any meditative state/pose is not to turn off our thoughts but to recognize them and let them pass. Acknowledge the passing thoughts and then return to the breath.
Some days its more easier said than done but trust that it's working. Know that laying completely still with your breathe is doing something. It is a mindful effort that will benefit your entire mental and physical body. Sometimes for me, I will feel more refreshed and awake from five minutes of breathwork in savasana than taking an hour or more long nap. It's truly amazing how good this pose can make you feel!
How to do savasana?
Staying present and fully aware of your body, lay your back flat on the floor with arms slightly away from the body palms facing up. Settle in to a comfortable resting position with legs stretched long or knees bent. If you have any lower back discomfort, you might find it more comfortable to rest in savasana with bent knees.
Breathe slowly and relax the entire body. Let your fingers curl. Let your face and jaw soften. Feel the rise and fall of your belly with each breath. Your mind will wander. Notice your thoughts and let them pass. Return to the breath.
Stay in savasana anywhere from three to ten minutes ideally. Start small and over time increase the length of the pose. To avoid looking at the clock, set a timer on your watch or phone.
To end savasana, steadily deepen the breath and begin to make micro movements beginning with your fingers and toes. Give them a wiggle then slowly move your armd and legs. You could stretch the body long with arms overhead or curl into a ball wrapping your arms around your shins rocking side to side.
Once ready, roll to your right side and slowly make your way to a sitting position. Open your eyes, acknowledge the practice and mindfully return to stand.
Know that this pose takes practice. You might do savasana today and find it easy breasy or it might be the hardest thing you've ever done. The flipside may be true for the next time. Keep at it. It's a great way to bring awareness to your body, to reset every now and again and fill your cup with a little self-care requiring absolutely no cost, equipment or fancy gadgets.
We are busy people. I get it. I'm busy too. However, I challenge you this week to take five minutes to slow down. Take this time for yourself. Set the timer on your phone for five minutes, lay still in savasana and just breathe. Enjoy the brief time-out from the chaos of the day-to-day. You deserve this.
And, until next Monday, happy resting and relaxing!!!