SURRENDERING INTO SHAVASANA
I was always told it was the most important pose/asana in a yoga practice. It is only now, 15 years into a committed practice, I am getting to it.
In most of the vinyasa style yoga classes I attended, which usually lean into being dynamic if not bloody challenging ,and, for me can direct me to a more goal orientated practice, I have noticed that the last pose, Shavasana, is given the least importance...or so it seems to me.
As a yoga student and teacher it has also been under appreciated by me too. Until now.
In my recent teaching of yoga, most of my classes have been facilitated outside on the earth. I have been exploring letting go of the more formal linear based yoga movements to encourage a more circular, softer and curious based approach. One of the benefits of this is that the participants get to explore the space and range within their body and to really focus of feeling what lies inside, with the only goal being that each person begins to become aware of what it feels like in what can some times feel like unfamiliar terrain and unwind from negative patterns emotionally and physically. (more on this later).
At the end of each practice when we come to the traditional resting pose of Shavasana or as I am exploring it, the dying pose (the word is rooted from the Sanskrit word Sava, which literally means corpse). I ask each person if they can let themselves be truly held by the earth. To surrender, to let go of their roles and assumed identities, their lists; to allow themselves to experience being held by the solidness of earth.
Of course as I was asking this of others I became very curious as to how much I could surrender myself and it turns out it led me to really become present with myself in Shavasana, much much more than I can be during my own other mindfulness practices. In the fineness and subtlety of this resting pose I noticed a resistance in letting go, or only letting go so far.
I understand this as my ego, that ancient old survival friend, in unwillingness to surrender, to dying, which is what it feels like will happen.
The beauty of an asana yoga practice is that we learn to go deeper into a state of becoming harmonious with the mind so that we can surrender. Why is this important for me to share? I believe the juice of life lives on the other side of surrender. It is where the state of flow and mystery exist. It is where we learn to explore the multi dimensional. It is where you find your dreams and the ability to let go of patterns. It is also where harmony exists in our bodies, where health and balance can return.
There is a quote by Rumi that reads:
"Out beyond our ideas of wrong doing and right doing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there" - Rumi.
When we end in Shavasana we let go of doing anything other that witnessing where we are, emotionally and physically. With the body laying like a corpse there is an invitation to inquire whether it is possible to let ourselves go even further, tiny bit by tiny bit, dissolving. Whether we can or cannot is isn't the goal, it is the awareness and the practice that will teach you to slowly do so. The benefits of this are so far reaching into all aspects of our health, mentally, physically and spiritually.
In order to know if you are surrendering you must be present, that in itself is gold.
So next time you reach the end of your yoga practice, as you lie there, stay present enough to softly notice where you can let go more deeply, keep asking and keep exploring.
Love from me to you
In you are interested to exploring this or trying one of my yoga classes and you don't live near to me, I am launching World Wide Community Yoga practices online. These are by donation and it could be the beginning of a beautiful thing so check it out here.