The final pose in most any yoga practice is called savasana, otherwise known as Corpse Pose. This hugely restorative resting pose should last as least five minutes (anything less is honestly pure torture for your body and mind). The purpose of savasana is to rest, you know, to not do anything… at all.
A nice long savasana allows the body to integrate change, change in form of energy, change in shape of the body, change in the state of mind. Savasana promotes a state of deep stillness where every system in the body gets to quiet down. It allows time for stuff to settle. For example, say you release your hamstrings in Triangle Pose, during savasana these newly lengthened muscles will have time to adjust. Ah… Let’s say you release some mental tension. During this rest your mind reaches a new state of expansiveness and clarity. Ah… Lastly, let’s say that you let go of some emotional baggage during practice. In savasana you may feel a thrilling new lightness of being. Ah…
You don’t have to believe me, just try leaving class before taking savasana sometime. You may feel just a bit off, or kind of unsettled in your body. Notice how your mind, while calmer and more peaceful, may not feel fully grounded either. You may even feel a bit “flighty”. (sometimes known as “yoga coma”)
You see, we need savasana at the end of a yoga class to prepare us to re-enter our lives refreshed and revitalized yet ground and clear. We need savasana at the end of our day in the form of sleep to help us restore ourselves and renew our energy for the day ahead.
In my experience, we also need to further extend our savasana every few months to help us plunge into deep rest. I am speaking of a seven-day savasana oftentimes called vacation! The problem for many of us (myself included) is that vacation often means, doing, going, doing, and more doing. That, my friends, is not savasana. That can be called, same busy mind, different scenery.
I recently spent a week on Spofford Lake in southwestern New Hampshire. We have been renting an old house there for a few years. My family calls this week a year the “savasana vacation”. We are learning to master this new art of vacationing where there is no agenda and no musts. No one badgers anyone to do anything. We do our best to leave each other alone to do whatever it is we are called to do at the moment be it read, nap, kayak, swim, nap, yoga, nothing, nap, eat, watch the sunrise (see pic) or sleep in, you get the picture.
I love this vacation. It usually takes me a few days to stop doing and I don’t remember much about the particulars as the days melt into one another. I don’t look at my watch or care about the weather. This special place and time has become a must in my life. This time spent doing nothing is priceless. This week long deep savasana is so extraordinary that I have to believe it is necessary in all of our lives.
If a savasana vacation isn’t possible for you at this time, then perhaps you can plan a “stay-cation”, an at-home savasana for a day. That may just be the pick-me-up medicine that you need.
Have you taken a savasana vacation? I’d love to hear about it.