Shavasana - Do we really need to practice this?
This has been a question which I have been asked quite a number of times, sometimes genuinely and sometimes with an attitude of 'its-a-waste-of-my-time-but-I-have-to-endure-it'.
I always answer that it is the Most Important Pose of the Class!!
This is received by smiles and gentle nods, but the real answer is in the Inner experience of being in Shavasana.
During a typical Yoga session, we start with simple Asanas, accompanied with Pranayama. Then, we move onto more complex Yoga asanas, maybe include a couple of vigorous Sun Salutations which increase the heart rate, expand all the muscles, move all the different joints, effectively giving the physical body a complete workout.
We then follow the Asana session with Pranayama breathing movements, which help bring in more oxygen consciously into the lungs, enhancing the cell metabolism and revitalizing the body and mind on a cellular level.
Then, we finally get to the Shavasana stage of the class, where usually I'm asked the above question.
I always insist on including it at the end of every class, sometimes to the dismay of my students.
I believe Shavasana is an experience of 'Being' after all the 'Doing' during the entire session.
The physical body gets a great workout until then, now we focus on the mental, emotional and spiritual components of our complete being.
We release the mental strains of thoughts which hold us captive. We let go of emotional blocks which have hardened the heart and let healing energy flow freely again within. We learn to practice 'Pratyahara' or the conscious-withdrawal-of-senses. This basically means while sensory input is registered in the mind, this does not disturb the mind.
To give an example, a dog suddenly barking outside does bring a ripple of aversion, the mind registers the anger, but the difference is what happens next. In regular mind quality, the mind would have gone into a whole diatribe about dogs, one's previous experience with dogs etc.
But, when we are in the process of Shavasana, the mind registers the annoyance, but allows the mind to let go at that particular moment and doesn't drag the 'bone' behind the dog !!
That moment is an experience of freedom, of release and that is the true taste of Shavasana.
All of this seems very simple, very doable, which is the very reason we don't like to practice it.
But, if done with all the above concepts and practiced with whole-hearted attention to one's experience, Shavasana turns out to be the Most Difficult Pose, because one has to learn to handle the Mind, a very known adversary to all of us.
But, if we persist, inspite of all our questions and doubts, even for 4 - 5 minutes, something does shift within.
We learn to 'be' with who we are, regardless of the expectations of others or of society;
where we are on our journeys of life;
understand the 'why's' of our lives better and maybe
figure out the how to lead better, richer, deeper meaningful lives.
That surely is worth looking forward to!!