Monday, January 28, 2013

The Hardest Pose in Yoga

Well today is the day that I have promised for a while, I am going to actually talk about a yoga pose!  It is often said to be the hardest pose in your practice, well you may have already guessed by now from the picture that it's not handstand.  Yep, it's Shavasana, corpse pose. Did you read that correctly? Shavasana the hardest pose. Goodness look at the gentleman in the picture, he looks totally "zened" out.  By the way don't you just love how the light is falling across his body. 

As a clarification,  I didn't say it was the hardest physical pose, I said it was the hardest pose and the most important in your yoga practice. Done as the last pose of your practice as you release all muscular tension and you take this time to repair and recharge, find a balance before you come out and enter the world again. Ideally it should last 10 to 15 minutes if not longer.  But of course some of us in the Western world shorten it up considerably so we can get that last boat pose or headstand in.  (as a side note I am working on bringing  a proper Shavasana back into my classes). It is somewhat of an intimidating pose because our heart is open our body is in a vulnerable position and we are asked to just let go and trust.  That's where the hard part comes in.

I always like to think of Shavasana as that final blessings to yourself or from a higher power, to seal up the practice that you just worked so hard at.  I was raised in the Catholic church and  wondered in amazement at all of the people who would leave church right after receiving communion.  They didn't even go back to their seats, just straight out the back door.  I still want to yell at them "wait, where are you going, you are missing the best part, the final blessing".  " The Mass is ended, go in peace" or "Go in peace to love and serve the Lord".  Why would you not want to receive that?  We all could use a lot more peace in our lives.

I remember being in a yoga class years ago where it was like a revolving door, people coming and going during the class and then half the class getting up and leaving before the final "blessing".  I never went back.

Now Shavasana isn't about sleeping, even though that sometimes happens. Think of it as active relaxation. Sort of a reflection of the practice that you just experienced.  Enjoy, noticing the new sensation of your body.

You don't have to save Shavasana for the end of your yoga practice.  Enter it when you need to find some silence or if you are having trouble falling asleep.   Start at your toes and slowing work your way up your body as you consciously release and relax every muscle till you reach the crown of your head.  And yes of course, don't forget to breath.


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