I’ve been thinking about the next pose to highlight as the Pose of Week. This week in my classes we are wrapping up the study of the Yamas and Niyamas with the final Niyama of Ishvara Pranidhana or the practice of Surrender. I enjoy consulting with Ekhartyoga.com. Digging deeper into it, the writer, Emma Newlyn, tells us that in this Niyama we are “cultivating a deep and trusting relationship with the universe, and making each offering to something bigger than us.” I also think of this Niyama as surrendering our need to be in charge or to be in control. We are surrendering to what we need in the moment. We are finding stillness. We are listening to the silence around us, allowing it to speak to us.
In most yoga classes, it is common to end each practice with Savasana, or Corpse pose. Wanderulust.com is a wonderful blog on yoga. In Helen Avery’s reflection on this Niyama, she informs us that when we live in surrender, we we are surrendering from our ego, from our false beliefs that we may not be good enough, or simply *enough.* She speaks of three ways that we can put Ishvara Pranidhana into practice, both on the mat and off: 1) start by saying yes to the perfection of everything when faced with something that is threatening or challenging; 2) take a small step of faith in answering to what we think the Divine is sparking in us today; and 3) on the mat come to our practice with a heart of devotion, taking our time in our practice, not rushing through it, and approaching it also from a place of observance. Of Savasana, she says this, “And what better asana for allowing what is, than Savasana?”
Savasana allows us to fully surrender. Sometimes, as a reminder that we are called to surrender, yoga teacher will begin practice with Savasana. On the physical level, let’s talk about that surrender. When I invite my students to Savasana, I invite them to allow their bodies to be fully supported by the mat, to fully ground their body into the floor. Allow me to take you through Savasana.
1. Lay down on your back on the mat. You can choose to have your souls of your feet on the floor with bent knees. You can choose baddhakonasana, bound ankle pose, with your legs, you can choose to allow your legs to be fully extended
2. Take a moment to get the wiggles out, adjust your hips and your shoulders in a way that you can lay comfortably on the mat. You may choose to lift your hips, shake them out a little, then place them back on the mat, allowing your sacroiliac joints to make even contact with the mat as you rest your hips on the floor. With your shoulders you may choose to slightly shrug your shoulder blades on to your back to create space for your upper back and neck.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Take the time, using the breath to guide you, to do a visual scan of your body, starting with the crown of the head. Take an inhale, then focus the exhale on a part of the body, telling it to relax. Take your time as you do this. It may involve several inhales and exhales as you descend all the way to your feet.
5. Once you have arrived, remain in stillness for at least 5 minutes. During class I will play some very gentle music with nature sounds to encourage deep relaxation. You may find that you drift to “another place.” You may feel like you have fallen into a twilight sleep. It is in this state of deep relaxation where you find restoration. If you practice this often, you can train yourself to get into this place quickly, like muscle memory. When you can do that, it is magical. I remember getting into this state during acupuncture. Acupuncture only works when you are deeply relaxed
What are the benefits of Savasana? Why is important to take time to do this at the end of every practice?
Savasana allows you to balance all the systems and Chakras of the body
It especially benefits the nervous, endocrine, and digestive systems
It calms the nervous system, allowing for the reduction of anxiety and stress, and lowers blood pressure
Calming the nervous system increases immune function and pain management
It allows your body to assimilate all of the work of your practice
It allows the body to begin to repair any damaged or stressed tissues
There are so many more benefits I have not mentioned and I invite you to read more about Savasana.
Mostly I want you to know, this is the most important part of your practice and you deserve to give yourself a nice, long Savasana.