Guided Savasana and the Generous, Open Heart

I spur of the moment decided I should offer the Art of Self Care course a gusavaided savasana, and then couldn't figure how to host an mp3 on the forum, so it will live here.  Lucky you. Some of the most important work we do happens in savasana.  It's often seen as a time to rest.  It's sometimes simply called 'final relaxation pose'.  It's often skipped and students can spend years not really liking it, not feeling able to relax, or being uncomfortable with how silly it feels to lie down and do nothing, so vulnerable, such a place where tears are likely to come.

The fact that tears come in savasana might, though, be indicative of how psychologically important it is.



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In savasana, we are practicing.  We're practicing the final act of our lives.  We're practicing dying.  It's worth the time to try to die, well.  There is no point to the yogic path if it doesn't culminate in that moment.  The yogic path starts with that moment in mind.  The instructions for savasana are relatively simple: lie down and play dead.

We either minimize it or completely misunderstand it.  In our culture, death is portrayed as loss. It's the moment at which everything is taken from us.

From a mindfulness perspective, death isn't a loss but the moment we become supremely generous, and give ourselves completely.  In meditation, we work to realize the instinctive clinging of the mind and the limitations of perspective.  In savasana, we practice going so deeply into our own open hearted awareness that we can give back everything.  We give our weight back to gravity, first.  And then we give our breath back to the atmosphere.  Slowly, we give the heat of our blood away to the warm elements of the universe, and when they have gone and we are bone dry, we give our very dryness.  We give until we are not.  And this isn't a loss, but a moment in time.  It's the moment our greatest illusion passes out of our awareness and a next moment arises in its wake.

Many of us love postures, love a good yoga session, and bask in those sensations when it comes time to lie down.  But the real physiological and psychological work comes in the ability to feel what was turned on in us and allow them to be flipped back off.  Asana heal us and cause physiological transformation in the body.  But in order to really transform, we have to let the tools of transformation go.  If we don't, than we're rejecting the transformation in trying to be the person we were prior to transformation, in trying to hold on.  This is yoga philosophy, pure.

Savasana quiets any agitation out of the body.  Agitation or restlessness (is said to be one of the five hinderances to meditation or panca nirvavanas.  The other hinderances are sloth, doubt, and clinging or what I've been calling stickiness.  Stickiness can either be clinging to what we want, or the attempts we make to avoid what we don't.

Savasana brings equilibrium to the five tattvas of the body, corresponding to the five elements.  What belongs to privthi or earth becomes earthy again.  What is composed or flourishes with fluidity (such as the lymphatic system and the movement of Cerebrospinal Fluid and hormones through the endocrine system, especially the adryenal glands and the waters of the kidney line) is brought to an even tide.  Agni tattva, which lives in our blood, digestion, organs of perception especially the eyes, is clarified of it's oily burn and residual scum.  And akasha tattva, the space element, creates freedom for the mind heart to begin healing.

In somatic therapies, being able to sense how we hold ourselves against gravity and then allowing our movement through the world to become more of an embrace, a loving dance, is said to be the primary mechanism of healing.  That is, it's less about rearranging our insides or alignment than it is being able to feel our alignment, including our alignment in the world, and to finally recognize that how we move on the surface of the earth can be liberating or crushing.  Savasana is the absolute fulfillment of such somatic awakening.  Which is probably why Moshe Fedenkries had people lie that way for 16 minutes to release the psoas and rearrange absolutely everything.

Just try it.  Try it more than once.  Practice it for a long time.  If you want the yogic promises to start working in your body and heart, you can't skip it.  In a sense, it all starts with this.

from the pradipika:

Lying flat on the ground with the face upwards, in the manner of a dead body, is savasana.  It removes tiredness and enables the mind to relax.

Savasana is the corpse pose.  Shav means 'corpse'.  This asana has been adapted from the tantric practice of savasana in which the sadhaka sits on the corpse and practices his mantra.

This practice is useful for developing body awareness and pratyahara.  When the body is completely relaxed, awareness of the mind develops.  Its effects influence the physical as well as the psychological structure.  It is very useful in yogic management of high blood pressure, peptic ulcer, anxiety, hysteria, cancer and all psychosomatic diseases and neurosis.  In fact, savasana is beneficial no matter what the condition is, even in perfect health, because it brings up the latent impressions buried within the subconscious mind, and the mind which operates during waking consciousness relaxes and subsides.  It is, therefore, necessary to practice savasana for developing dharana and dhyana.  Even though it is a static pose it revitalizes the entire system.