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Yoga Pose of the Month: Savasana

For the Month of December we will be focusing on Savasana at Bayou Bliss. I have learned through asking you all and in general Blisslovers either LOVE Savasana or hate it 🙂

In the practice of yoga, Savasana is considered one of the hardest poses to master. I know for many of you that sounds silly, after all you are just laying on the floor, right? Savasana is translated as Corpse Pose, the final resting pose. Just like in tree pose you embody the strength, balance and vitality of a tree, in Corpse Pose you fully surrender from the ongoings of daily life and merge into universal energy field as you would when you die. You consciously relax your whole body, which is actually very different from sleeping or napping. The conscious relaxation moves your nervous system into a different state that allows it to heal. There are so many reasons why this is a essential practice especially in our modern world of go go go.

Savasana is more than just lying on the floor, it is a healthy and sustainable practice to keep your energy up through the day. Upon finishing a yoga sequence you often feel refreshed and relaxed in your body and your mind. You might be feeling a bit sleepy even; however, staying alert during Savasana will provide you with enormous benefits. Checking out or napping during Savasana is not what the pose is meant for (although sometimes that is what our bodies need and it is completely okay!), this simple pose is effective in giving you a sense of freedom over your worries and physical ailments.

Lets start with the physical – when you fully surrender and consciously relax your nervous system out of a flight or fight operation with the sympathetic nervous system and into rest, restore, heal mode in with the parasympathetic nervous system. It is actually a huge benefit of the practice both physically and mentally. You are training your mind and body to consciously move into a state of relaxation. I can’t tell you the number of clients who explain to me that they can’t shut off their mind, always thinking. Or that they are just so busy doing doing doing. So if you can learn to relax in Savasana, then you have the skill set, know how and practice of relaxing the body and mind whenever you need it! Wouldn’t that be nice?

Integration time

When you practice yoga, you move every part of your body. Most of the time in a Bayou Bliss class you learn something new about your body – how to move a different muscle, what it feels like to have active feet and legs, what is in balance and what is not, etc. That means new muscles and neuropaths are working. To really embody this new information, your body needs time to reorganize and digest the new information and energy flow. That is one of the reasons we do Savasana at the end of practice.

During my teacher training I made sure we have a minimum of 30 minutes Savasana at the end of each day so participants could integrated and absorb all of the information and energy of the day. It made HUGE difference.

Metaphysical/Psychological

In modern life, so much of what we do is a driven from a fear of dying. Put an easier way, most of us are scared of loss and endings. Endings are a natural part of life. We chant OM at the beginning and ending of each practice because it reminds of this greater cycle of life. Endings are about of that cycle. So Savasana is a part of the practice that can teach us how to enjoy or move through endings with grace, ease and tranquility. Allowing us to connect to that infinite potential of all that is.

Savasana is a form of mindful meditation that can reset a frazzled mind and help you deal with daily stressers and face situations with more awareness and less reactivity. You may also find that regular practice of this pose help to improve concentration and combat anxiety, insomnia and even hypertension.

How to practice the pose:

Find a space that is quiet and dark where you feel comfortable and are unlikely to be interrupted.
Find 5 minutes to do a quick Shavasana anywhere you can in your day and follow the principles of alignment to make it more beneficial in your everyday practice

1. Lie down in a neutral position with your head in the midline between each shoulder and your eyes angled straight up to the ceiling, try to keep your body even and balanced with your midline straight so energy can flow through smoothly (misalignment during this pose is experienced by the brain as a disturbance, drawing focus away from your intentions)
2. Externally rotate the arms with your palms facing upwards and hands resting on the same knuckle to free the breath and keep your shoulders loose
3. Take your arms about 10 inches to the sides of your body (or at a 45-degree angle relative to the torso) – too wide and you will feel subconsciously vulnerable, too tight and you will get restriction in your chest
4. Allow your legs to spread apart naturally – just wider than hip distance apart and each at the same angle from your midline – too wide and you add pressure to your outer hips, too tight and you crowd your pelvis
5. Close your eyes and release tension by resting them towards the back of their sockets and soften the muscles through your face and ears starting with the space between your eyebrows and moving to rest your tongue on the floor of your mouth
6. Practice keeping your mind from wandering, continuously withdrawing from your thoughts and staying as still and present as possible

Additions

1. If you have a tight lower back or strained hip flexors – add bolsters or blankets under your knees and ankles
2. Use an eye pillow to stimulate the vagus nerve and create a gentle pressure to calm the nervous system
3. Give your wrists a rest and add yoga blocks under each hand to allow the elbows and shoulders to further relax
4. If you sit at a computer all day you may find it more comfortable to add a blanket under your head
5. If you are prone to being cold – cover your body with a blanket
6. With tight shoulders, upper back and chest, add one blanket each under your spine and head to elevate the chest and release the shoulders back to the ground
7. Add a bolster or weight on top of your thighs to further encourage your legs to relax
8. A dab of your favorite essential oil or flower elixir to the temples and/or third eye to also aid in relaxation

We are holding our annual Shavasana Challenge this month with 21 days of Shavasana. This is the counter pose to the holidays where you can take the time to nourish and reflect and embrace the darkness of the season. It is a conducive time for meditation and relaxation and provides a way to honor and move with nature in modern life. This month we will explore the use of weights, props, elixirs and timing in the studio and we encourage you to do so in your home practice as well!