Friday, July 17, 2009

Yoga: Shavasana

Last night after a rigorous yoga practice and many more mosquito bites to boot, me and my yoga-mates shared opinions about how yoga practices have been going thus far. We talked about what we liked and what we'd like to see more of. From this discussion we realized that we'd gotten away from doing our deep relaxation poses or Shavasana (Sansrkit) at the end of practice and talked about working them back in.

If you're not familiar with Shavasana, I'll do my best to explain it. Shavasana is a pose in which you lie flat on your back in a restful state. That is, there is no movement except for the rise and fall of your chest as you calmly breathe in and out. Your eyes are closed, your mind is calm. Although your eyes are closed it is not a sleep state, it is a wakeful state with the intent to induce deep relaxation, rejuvenation and introspective thought. Your breathing becomes the center of focus; the in-breath is positive energy flowing in, the out-breath is the tension and stress flowing out. Typically while in this pose, the yoga instructor will give Meditative Visualizations to give your mind something to do, rather than falling asleep, which is the natural impulse.

Meditative Visualizations are usually subtle hints of things you might want to reflect upon while in the Shavasana Pose. They are directives that generate thought that usually centers upon either a place or a part of your body. Example:

Visualize a clear blue sky, a symbol of the infinite spirit, of love and goodness. . . " and so on and so forth.

But on one occasion we were asked to think of a place where we would like to go or be. A place where we found connection that brought peace and good feelings. I struggled with this one, and while I was supposed to be relaxing and clearing my mind, I became preoccupied with the thought that I didn't know of such a place. I've been to Maui and loved it, I've been to Spain and loved it and many other places and well, I loved it. But did I find peace and a deep overwhelming connection to those places, and I gotta say, no. And then if that weren't enough, I started thinking, while in Shavasana, ". . . where would I want my ashes spread if I didn't know of such a place?" I realize this is a morbid thought but in truth, it was all I could think about.

So last night while telling my yoga-mates this story, a knowing smile came over their faces and they told me that, the Shavasana Pose is also referred to as the Corpse Pose or Death Pose. Your body, in this pose, should be heavy like a corpse. It creep me out. But the question still remains, where would I want my final resting place to be? Where is that peaceful place that I am drawn to again and again?

Now I'm not going to ask you where you would like your ashes spread, instead I would like to know what place in the world brings you the most comfort or joy or an overwhelming sense of connectedness? When or if you are ever in the Shavasana Pose, where would your mind take you?

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