One of the many wonderful aspects of a yoga practice is the deep relaxation that comes at the end. Called Savasana, this deep relaxation is the final pose of class which seals in all the benefits of the yoga postures. Here, you allow your body to rest toward a physical stillness, the mind to rest on the breath, and restore mind, body and spirit by taking the deep rest we so often deny ourselves in the name of busyness.
Most people love this part of class, look forward to it, and even call it their favorite part of class. But there are many who struggle deeply with pose for many reasons. Here are the comments I have heard most from classes about the challenges faced in savasana, and ways to make the pose more accessible to you.
1. “I can’t get comfortable.”
Typically, this pose is taken lying completely flat on the back, legs extended and arms by your side. However, moving into stillness and quieting the mind will be impossible if your low back is screaming out to you. Get yourself comfortable. Place a rolled mat or bolster beneath your knees or bend your knees and place both feet flat on the mat letting the knees fall toward each other, relieving tension in the low back. Feel free to lie on your side as well. I have some clients who bring a bag full of pillows, blankets, and other goodies to get as comfy as possible.
2. “I can’t close my eyes.”
One of the experiences of savasana is withdrawal of the senses. The eyes take in so much stimulation, by closing them we can usually bring about a sense of calm. If that is not your experience, there are a couple suggestions to help you bring about a state of calm awareness. Close your eyes for one breath at a time, gradually building up to longer times. Focus your eyes on one point and resist the urge to let the eyes wander (this can be very challenging). Dim or turn out the lights if possible.
3. “I always fall asleep.”
You awaken with a snort or snore and realize you have actually fallen asleep in savasana. No doubt you were relaxed, but here in final relaxation, the goal is to cultivate a quiet awareness of body, mind and breath. To help stay aware, allow your mind to follow the breath and to gently check in with the body, scanning from head to toe a couple of times if needed. Check in with the sensations in various spaces in the body. What are the sensations in the soles of your feet or the palms of your hands? Where are you tense? Where are you comfortable and relaxed? Where does the breath move in your body and how does the body respond to the breath?
Also, take the time to check in with your sleep habits. Too many of us are so deeply lacking in the hours of sleep we need to meet the demands of daily life. Try going to bed at a reasonable time and waking at the same time every day.
All this said, sometimes you are truly in need of a rest, so as long as you don’t feel too groggy afterwards, enjoy the catnap.
As always, be gentle with yourself in all aspects of your practice. In time, it will begin to come to you, sometimes in little increments. Savasana is not simply lying down. Anyone who has experienced it feels the effects deep within. Find a way to relax into your practice, even when it’s challenging. The poses we resist or that feel the most challenging are often the ones we need most and help us grow more deeply in our practice.
What are your challenges with Savasana?
How do you make the most of your Savasana practice?
Peace & Namaste.