31 March 2014

I Thought I Knew Savasana

Fifty minutes or so have passed in your Bikram class. You've stretched and pulled and bent your body in a myriad of ways. You've been asked to show "bengal tiger strength" and "bulldog determination". You've attempted to pull on your heels, lock your knees, and touch your forehead to the floor (or your knee). You've tried oh so hard to balance on one leg, then the other, then on your toes. If you're like me, you've also been awake for fourteen hours commuting, working, preparing meals, cleaning, or any of a hundred different things that might make up your day. You're getting tired, you may be a wee bit dehydrated or nauseous (that cheeseburger two hours was a mistake).

You need a break. You need it badly.

Then those magic words ring out:

"Lie down on your back. Savasana."

You crumple in a heap on your mat, guzzle down some water, and try to get yourself situated. While all this is going on, you dimly hear more dialogue that may or may not include the following:

"Bring your legs together, heels together, feet fall open. Arms by your side, palms facing up. We take two minutes here to relax and let the body sort itself out. Focus one spot on the ceiling, resist the urge to adjust your costume, to scratch, to wipe, or anything else. Empty your mind and focus on full, deep breaths. Belly rise, belly fall."

Of course while these words are spoken, you (meaning me) are too busy doing almost ALL the things you aren't supposed to do. The sweat is running down everywhere, making me itch. My breathing resembles a locomotive instead of in and out through the mouth. My mind races with thoughts of what to eat after class, what the following work day looks like, the grocery list, etc.

That was Savasana for me when I began practicing. Over time, it has gradually moved to a more relaxing, renewing break before the floor series.

At least, I thought it was. Then about ten days ago, I had a small revelation.

There I was, laying quietly, breathing in and out through the nose, legs quiet, no scratching, no moving, mind quiet. The instructor said something I've heard a thousand times: "Relax your neck."

I did. It felt like my neck dropped six inches, although it was much less than one. I never knew how much tension I held there! I was surprised at how much of a difference that made. Now, I really focus on relaxing ALL of my body, from heels to head. The clearing of the mind is still a challenge every class, but it's getting better. I have been interested in getting into meditation, and this is a good way to begin.

Last week, I learned a good tip for Savasana on your stomach. Try to touch your earlobe to the floor every time in order to stretch your neck fully. It works!

How long to stay in final Savasana? You are told two minutes. Five is better. Stay in the moment. Let your body get acquainted with all you have done. Meditate. Breathe.When you get up and leave the room, the world will still be there, doing it's very best to break you down. Make the world wait for you instead of the other way around for once. You've just done something wonderful for yourself. You've spent time on yourself. And your Self.

You deserve it.


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