I love ab work. I do. Planks, climb the rope, butt lifts, crunches. Bring it on. Just not at the end of a yoga practice, please, as a student in a recent class insisted upon doing. As lovingly as I could, I encouraged her with my eyes to please lie back down already. The rest of the class could do well without the accompanying soundtrack of grunting and puffing through bicycle twists.
Savasana, or also known as deep rest, (or corpse pose if you can get past the morbid undertones) isn’t easy. Our minds typically want to be doing something. Anything. Even completely motionless, my mind is just one forgotten breath away from careening down a to-do list to tackle the moment I finish my final Ohm. Buy more bananas; freeze the spotted ones rotting away on the counter; clean the cat box before he kicks all the sand out of it, thus creating another project to tackle; call my Dad who just had a freaking tree fall through his house; eat fewer animal cookies. And down the fast lane it goes.
I’m capable of working up a bigger mental sweat in Savasana then 90 minutes of power poses.
Savasana is supposedly simple. You just lie down and shut yourself the f*** up. Alas, if only it were that simple. In our get a tighter ass-ana society (it’s why I first took a class 20 some years ago) with a twisted formula of push harder/work faster/get more likes on FB = better, doing nothing is pretty low on the priority totem pole. But it shouldn’t be. Here are a few reasons why:
Ma’am, could you kindly not step on my forehead?”
Savasana cultivates mindfulness. If we can get quiet even for a couple of minutes, once we arise, life as it’s unfolding right smack in front of us takes on a brighter hue. And keeps those around us a little safer. This morning a dear yogi next to me got up, made sloppy Origami out of her mat (no time to roll it, apparently), kicked her sweaty blocks to the corner and proceeded to kick me in the head as I attempted to relax in Svasana.
Savasana can keep your hormones from wreaking havoc. Cortisol, I’m talking to you. That pesky stress hormone doesn’t turn off by itself. We have to do that with rest. Otherwise all kinds of unyoga-like human carnage can result: perpetual fatigue, belly fat, react-now-and-regret-it-later behavior.
Savasana lets you feel, and celebrate. I don’t know about you, but after holding, twisting, balancing, sweating, and at times inwardly cursing, I want a little reward immediately following. And because none of my teachers pass animal cookies out after class, I find my reward in Savasana. The five minutes or so of rest is like my little victory lap after honoring my commitment to doing the work of yoga, on my body and my mind.
So yogis, lie down and relax. It really is quite sweet.