If you’ve ever taken a Yoga class, you are probably familiar with Savasana. This is usually the final pose of the practice and, though it may not seem like it, also the most important. But why?
Savasana is important because you are giving your body the opportunity to completely relax and to integrate the practice, the physical postures, that you have just done. For many of us this alone is enough reason to practice Yoga. More than gaining flexibility and strength, most of us just need to relax for a few minutes each day.
And yet, for many Savasana is not enjoyable or relaxing at all. Why? Because as soon as we allow our body to
become still there is nothing left to distract the mind and so it becomes very busy. Have you ever rested in Savasana and worried about the rest of your day, your week, or even the rest of your life? Or reflected back on your practice and thought of all of the poses that were challenging and all of the ways that your are not flexible enough? Or thought that your practice is not as good as the strong young man practicing next to you and that leads you to thinking of all of the reasons that your practice is not good at all? Maybe you have even found yourself thinking of what you are going to make for dinner? You are not alone!
So how do we learn to experience the benefits in Savasana without a busy mind?
What is Yoga Nidra? Simply stated, it is a state of conscious deep sleep.. a state that ultimately allows us to experience Savasana at it’s fullest healing potential. Great. So how do we get there?
There are many techniques one can use to reach the Yoga Nidra state of consciousness. I often end my Yoga classes with a guided meditation, in which I guide the students with my voice through a series of visualizations, or a body scan in which I guide the students as they move their awareness through different parts of their own bodies. These practices offer the mind something to follow so that your daily thoughts don’t come rushing in. The result is a deeply relaxed state which allows your body to fully integrate the practice and your mind to break free of it’s daily patterns and habits. Deep relaxation and healing.
What if your teacher does not guide you during Savasana?
You can learn to guide yourself into a Yoga Nidra state. Here are a few practices you can try :
- Follow your breath. Notice how it feels to breathe in and breathe out. Observe your body as you breathe. Does your belly rise and fall? Do you feel the breath move deeper into your body? Perhaps you simply observe the sensation of the breath moving across your upper lip or through your nose.
- Silently chant a mantra. You can use a very simple one, such as I Am where you chant I as you inhale, Am as you exhale. Or if you have a mantra that you use for other practices, try it during Savasana. Repeat the mantra over and over again, allowing it to calm your mind.
- Do your own body scan. Begin by noticing the soles of your feet. What do you feel there? Then rise your awareness slowly up your legs, through your pelvis and belly, into your ribcage, and so on. Do your best to keep your awareness on your physical body. If you notice your mind wandering draw your awareness back to the soles of your feet and begin again.
These practices can be challenging without the guidance of a teacher. If you find you are unable to bring yourself to a deep relaxing state, find a Yoga teacher who offers guided relaxation during Savasana. Once you learn to relax into a Yoga Nidra state of awareness you can use the techniques in the comfort of your own home. Yoga Nidra is important because it offers our body and mind an opportunity to relax, without falling into a deep sleep. After just a few minutes of Yoga Nidra, you may find yourself feeling more peaceful, less stressed, and more ready to take on the rest of your day!