December’s pose of the month is Savasana. This is the pose many anticipate at the end of a rigorous yoga practice. At this time, yogis can find rest, relaxation, and restoration in this pose. There are numerous benefits to Savasana including relief from mild depression, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. Savasana can also calm the nervous system, calm fatigued muscles, and ease tension in the shoulders and jaw. The pose is a fully conscious pose, aimed at relaxation and connection to your previous asana practice.
Yet, oftentimes, Savasana may not be as relaxing and restorative to some yogis. After you’ve spent an entire yoga practice moving and breathing to pump blood and oxygen into your muscles and tissues, it may be difficult to pause in stillness. Some may find that the movement and concentration on breath during asana practice is the perfect distraction for calming a monkey mind, but when the room becomes quiet and when you become still, it may be difficult to calm the thoughts that overcome the brain at this moment. In addition, some may find discomfort in this pose. Some yogis with lower-back issues may find it difficult to lie flat on the back without some mild discomfort.
One of the main reasons this pose may be difficult for some is that during stillness, your brain may become active with thoughts about your plans and your responsibilities for the day or for the week. You may find yourself thinking of things like:
Boy, I’m super hungry!
Who is that snoring over there?
What am I going to do about that work project?
What do I need at the grocery store?
Is this relationship I’m in all it’s cracked up to be?
What am I going to buy my daughter for her birthday?
My mat smells funny!
It’s hot in here!
Keep this in mind, that the thoughts going through your head at this moment are perfectly normal, and it is perfectly normal to acknowledge those thoughts, but this is the time to let them go. When you come into savasana, set yourself up for success:
1. Set an intention: Mark something that you enjoyed about your previous asana practice. Revisit the movement in your mind. Ask yourself what was special about that moment in your practice. Keep thinking of how you felt at that time; let the positive sensation guide you through.
2. Give yourself space: Spread out on your mat, use any bolsters, towels or blankets to help you relax. You can lie flat on your back with your arms spread wide, palms up and your legs open. You can bring your feet towards your sits bones, like your setting up for bridge. You could try reclining butterfly with the soles of your feet together and knees spread wide. You can even take savasana with your feet up the wall. Finally, you can lie on your side in fetal pose for the duration of savasana. The idea here is to be comfortable and to set yourself up for the best expression of this pose that works for you!
3. Scan your body: Notice how your body feels now and how you felt when you first started your practice. Place no judgment on how you feel, just notice. Send your breath to any place that may feel tension or tightness. Smile inside and out. It will loosen tension in your facial muscles and jaw, and it will allow you to surrender into the pose.
4. Trust yourself: know that your breath can carry you through this moment. Know that some days will be harder to calm the mind than others. Place no judgment on this, for you are up to something bigger!