Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Grieving the loss of savasana

"Close your eyes, relax your body and allow yourself to absorb the practice" **WEEEEEEEEEEEE** "Let your muscles go, allow your shoulders to melt into the floor" *don't let your shoulder round, relax leg-RELAX*  "Allow your top body to breathe in your practice, melting your bottom half into the floor"  *SQEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, head up, head up!*

No, I haven't gone bonkers, this is my internal cacophony during my savasana. Yep, the "wee" is the closest I can get to describing my tinnitus (accouphène for the fellow Frenchies :) ). Combine the constant squealing reminder of my hearing loss with an internal struggle to relax while in seated position and you get some of the above. Oh, and the actual bits from the yoga instructor.

Since my last post, where I wrote about how savasana or corpse pose, was actually one of the most painful asanas for my body, I decided that instead of forcing my body to like savasana, I would simply adjust my expectations of what 'savasana' looks like for me.

The goal of savasana is to allow your body and mind to fully absorb your practice. I always loved the feeling of spiritual connection I received while I allowed my body to *feel* the energy of Life. Fouffy? Yep, but weirdly during savasana it was less work to feel the energy that surrounds us all.

So, for a long time I was attached to this easier practice that brought me closer to the Goddess. I had to actually grieve the loss of savasana.

Now I am practicing seated meditation as my 'savasana'. It's much more difficult as when I'm seated I have to find that precious balance of relaxation without complete rounding and losing posture integrity.

 (Me trying to find meditation during my 'hotel' yoga practice out in Cape Breton last night)

I started at home during Friend Yoga. I could wiggle and be a bit antsier than I would in a class, finding a better position. A few weeks ago I had the courage to request that I practice savasana seated (I trust her, so it was a lot easier) and it took some time to try to work through feeling weird that I was sitting while everyone was lying down. And I wasn't the teacher.  (Like, maybe they're thinking 'who the heck does she think SHE is? that weirdo meditating pompous yogi'.... yep, letting go of magical made up judgments).
(cool sun on the drive home tonight, winter ethereal sun fuzzy from precipitation in the distance)

Fast forward a few more classes and I'm really starting to find a comfort zone and actually experiencing a glimpse of what I used to experience during pain-free savasana. Half lotus helps my center of gravity be such that I can relax my lower back, my legs and my arms in slight increments without falling forward on my face.

Slowly but surely I am moving towards acceptance of my body and what yoga means for me. One seated savasana at a time. You?

 (windmills out near Port Hawkesbury Cape Breton with a beautiful, pink-lavender winter sunset)
(Crazy glowing sunset ball of fire in CB last night. I was the weirdo stopped on the highway, tourist pictures in the middle of January!)

article and photograph copyright of EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com


  1. this is what practice is about - deep listening, and responding from that place. i think people, including some teachers, get attached to particular forms and postures, and think that this is it. but it isn't.

    perhaps you'll go back to lying down savasana someday, or maybe not. as long as it's coming from deep listening and paying attention, then whatever form appears is what is called for.

  2. When I teach, I give people a few different options for savasana.

    They can remain sitting if they wish to - that's no big deal at all. They can even sit with their back against a wall if that helps. Or they can rest with their legs up the wall. Or normal savasana lying on the ground.

    Some people (like me) have lower back issues and so "normal" savasana can be quite uncomfortable. It's also fine then, to place a bolster/blankets under your knees, which changes the angle of the pelvis, and very much makes savasana more comfortable.

    Yoga isn't about pain, but finding a way in to that quiet, expanding, central place in the heart. Sounds like you've found something that works for you, which is awesome.

  3. I used to think people would think I was nuts if I told them I found savasana difficult. Then, I hated nap time in kindgergarten, too...

  4. first of all - gorgeous photos! i love looking at other worlds especially when mine's all mucky :)

    i am not great with full on corpse pose, and am actually most comfortable with my legs in butterfly as i lie on my back. whatever works!!!!

  5. and for your awesomeness:

  6. I am glad you are listening to your body! That is exactly what you should be doing, connecting with your body and doing what allows you to get that connection. Sadly, my yoga journey has taken a hiatus in the last couple of months due to a back injury but my body is telling me to start at it again slowly and work my way back up. So I think I will take some inspiration form you (and you gorgeous sunset pics!) and start again this week!

    Big Hugs!

  7. Thanks for updating us. I was wondering how your savasana / meditation was going. It sounds like you are settling into the quiet which is exactly what it is all about.

    FYI: About 1/4 of my students don't lie in a "traditional" savasana and I don't either.

  8. Taking a cue from your previous blog, I started offering options for Deep Relaxation (aka savasana) at the end. To help facilitate the idea that one doesn't have to always lie down on their back, I would end class on the stomach or seated meditation.

    I now have some folks who will stay in "classic buddha pose" (easy pose), some who like to rest on their backs and some who stay on their stomachs. I also think it helps in special situations - like my Mommies-to-be - so people don't feel so self conscious bolstering up.

    Thanks for the update!

  9. I'm so glad that you brought this up. I'm relatively new to Yoga and when the instructor taught us Savasana, the more practiced students commented that this was their favorite. I found it to be so difficult. It was uncomfortable and my mind refused to calm down. I'm getting better at it but I'm so glad to know that others find it difficult as well!

  10. I love this line: "Like, maybe they're thinking 'who the heck does she think SHE is? that weirdo meditating pompous yogi'.... yep, letting go of magical made up judgments)."

    I've had to listen each time several times a week to what my body needs for the final pose. My body is so changeable what with health things that effect my muscles and joints that each time is different. Sometimes I need an abundance of props. Sometimes I would rather do legs up the wall for my final pose, or like Small Footprints mentioned, have my legs in butterfly. One thing I almost always love to have is an eye pillow, though I always wish they were heavier. The part that I almost never like is the whole rolling to your side in fetal position before sitting up. Never feels comfortable physically or mentally/emotionally - I just want to sit up already and try and get a few precious moments of seated meditation in, something I wish every yoga class offered after shavasana. Here's to each of us finding our own bliss in yoga, no matter what it looks like!

  11. I love that you shared this! One of the main things I love about yoga is how it teaches us to figure out what works for our unique bodies. I also teach and practice yoga in various iterations.

  12. I always try to find the most comfortable spot for my students in savasana. And I offer them the seated option as well. As a teacher, most of the time, my eyes are closed when my students are in savasana. It is my time to do a meditation for them...I imagine that as I inhale I suck in all their worries and negative energy and as I exhale I send them love, peace, and faith. But, when I'm done and they are still in savasana, it breaks my heart to see those students who are totally struggling. Tapping their toes, shifting around, getting up and getting back down. And, I never really know if they are struggling being with themselves for a few minutes or if they are in pain. I assume the pose is just bringing up a lot of stuff for them if they don't take modifications.

    Anyway...the point of my ramble (sheesh) is that savasana is like any other yoga pose: if it is painful or not right for you, take a modification. It doesn't mean that you aren't "doing it right" or "wimping out" or any other bs. It means that you are taking care of yourself. As long as a student at least stays through savasana, as opposed to loudly packing up and leaving, whatever goes for me!

  13. ahh I have tinnitus too, and it really, really bothers me during savasana. As if not being able to concentrate doesn't make me anxious enough, being reminded of the constant ringing in my ears definitely will. I've toyed with the idea of bringing an ipod with some music or white noise to listen to during savasana, but I've always been self conscious about it. Maybe I should give it a go...


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