I was in a room with 40 other yogis, all strangers from all different backgrounds, and the teacher had just led us through about 5 mini Savasana's and now was the last and final one. I knew I was supposed to be still and let go, but I could not stop moving around! Every other second there would be an itch, or a discomfort, or a tickle, or a weird noise. I was having a hard time keeping my eyes closed and I knew I was being loud enough that my two yogi neighbors next to me could hear me moving. I was beginning to feel like I wasn't doing this right, I wanted to be perfect!
Right at that moment one of the assistant teachers came over and said "close your eyes and just breathe." I nodded and looked around the room for inspiration. Everyone looked peaceful and calm, I just wanted to feel that way too! "This is just another meditation, focus on your breathing and try to surrender", the assistant said. I closed my eyes, took a deep inhale, and on the exhale I repeated the word surrender in my head. The sensations began to pass and I found myself a little more peaceful than before....
Savasana means corpse pose in sanskrit, it is meant to symbolize the physical immobility of death but with an awakened mind. It is a deep surrender of the present moment, letting yourself be and meditating on that. Savasana is self care, but it is also a deep awareness that all things are impermanent and we can learn to appreciate without attachment. In the US we practice this pose at the end of class, in certain traditional styles it is practiced throughout the yoga class. The first time you practice this pose it can seem really uncomfortable and awkward, like you're not sure what to do exactly! But thats just it, you're not supposed to do anything but contemplate and breathe. I often tell my students to start off simple and then move to the subtle, once you are completely relaxed and focused.
So, you wanna have the best Savasana experience of your life?!
1) Get completely comfortable
Use all the props you have, or no props, to get you to a place of physical comfort. The moment your body feels good, you can begin to focus on relaxing. A teacher once told me "when the body moves, the mind moves", meaning if your body is uncomfortable it makes it that much harder to really let the mind relax. Its best to remove as many distractions from the body as you can with the support of props. I usually will have a blanket or two handy for my hips, neck, or spine. Depending on your lower back issues you may play around with adding a bolster as well. Take your time finding comfort, this isn't a race to enlightenment so don't rush!
2) Follow your Breath
Learning to surrender begins with tuning in to the present moment, and the breath is a beautiful guide to help us get there. First, begin by counting out the length of your breath in seconds on your inhales and exhales as they naturally come. Then start to deepen the breath, counting to 5 on the in breath, and counting to 6 on the out breath. Once you feel good with that, begin to take a pause between your inhale and exhale, making the transition smooth and without force. Release the count naturally and keep that same rhythm flowing, relaxing every muscle in the body. See where it leads you...
3) Notice your Body in Time and Space
Every Savasana will be a different experience, none will be alike. Knowing that means you dont have to expect anything and can truly release to the present moment. Notice your body and how it feels in this moment. Not how you want it to be or feel, but how it feels right now. This is a powerful tool and meditation that can take you deeper into this practice of surrender. Don't let the ego take you to a story time of how you should feel, come back to the breath if that happens. Notice your body sensations and without moving follow them as they arrive and then ultimately and just as quickly they leave. Its a beautiful experience!
You have now found enlightenment, congratulations!!!
Just kidding! However you are one step closer to surrendering to this thing we call life. Corpse pose isn't about laying still and suffering through it, its about coming to a deeper awareness that things come and go but your spirit remains calm and neutral. Surrendering to the breath and the pose allows you to surrender to life as it happens, making you able to handle anything that comes your way with grace and ease. Learning to be in the body but not attached to it, not attached to the story, and relieving yourself of any pain or trauma that may be associated with it. So what are you waiting for? Find a nice place to lay down, and release!