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A lot of yoga poses are hard to do.

Like this one:

 

My dear friend and amazing yoga teacher Meaghan Minogue in forearm balance.

My dear friend and amazing yoga teacher Meaghan Minogue in forearm balance.

 

But even MORE challenging are the poses that we don’t “do.” Rather, we have to let them do us.

Like this:

 

Savasana, or "corpse pose."

Savasana, or “corpse pose.”

 

If that sounds like a bunch of hoodily-doodily, stay with me. Because this blew my mind once I started to really understand it.

The thing about that forearm balance up top? There’s a lot of work you’re not seeing. What you can’t see is how much she is:

  • pressing down from her elbows to her hands.
  • pressing through her inner hands (which causes the shoulders to open).
  • breathing smoothly and evenly.
  • focusing her gaze is on that space between her thumbs, and
  • actively stretching her sternum towards it.
  • pressing out through her feet, and
  • strongly reaching her tailbone toward the space between them.
  • further lengthening her spine by hugging the ribs in, but not so much to inhibit her breath.
  • allowing the small fluctuations of balance to happen without trying to control them.

This is a lot to do. Physically and mentally. A beginner would probably go crazy if I gave them this much instruction out the gate.

All a beginner sees is the pose itself, and the fact that it looks easy (for the person doing it). They might not see the subtle, largely invisible work that goes into it.

 

Same thing with savasana, the final relaxation that happens at the end of class.

 

Savasana is the most important pose, and the most difficult.

 

What the what? Yes.

Just lying there is the most difficult pose.

Because just like there was all that stuff you might not have realized was happening in forearm balance, there is a lot more to savasana than lying on the ground.

Except unlike forearm balance, this isn’t stuff you can do. It’s stuff you have to allow.

Here’s what the woman is savasana is allowing:

  • gravity to have the weight of her bones; she is not resisting its pull at all.
  • urges to move, fidget, scratch, etc. to rise and also to fall, without reacting to them.
  • her breath to flow through her lungs without controlling it
  • thoughts to arise in her mind and also fall — no attaching to or following them
  • her mind to remain aware of all the sensations of relaxation.

That means she’s not sleeping; she’s engaged. She’s paying attention. She’s just not doing anything.

 

This is so freaking hard because we are addicted to doing things.

 

We are really, really good at doing things. Most of us do not lack this important skill.  We know how to do. We have lists and goals, and we usually measure our success by productivity.

Allowing is much, much harder than doing.

 

Here’s what I mean by that:

As challenging as it is when I give a laundry list of instructions on what to do to accomplish a pose, most people can still get their head around it. They can see a path, and understand that if they learn to do these specific things — all at once — they will get down the path. And eventually be balancing upside down on their forearms.

But it is way easier for us to to learn how to do something new — like press down through the inner hands — than to stop doing everything altogether.

Savasana asks us to release control, but still pay attention.

 

It’s not sleep. Sleep means you’re not in command of your attention.

So… to be awake and aware, but not doing anything? Not in control?

Yup.

 

When all the doing melts away, all that is left is being.

 

And that’s our essence: we are human beings. {Not human doings!}

Savasana, which literally translates as “corpse pose,” means we let all the doing die away and are reborn to this essential nature of just plain ol’, pure being.

Ahhhhh.

It’s incredibly rejuvenating. And also incredibly hard to release into at will.

This work is way more subtle and slippery than pressing down through inner hands and stretching your sternum and tailbone in opposite directions.

You can’t do this work. You have to stop doing stuff to find it.

Ultimately, hatha yoga is about embodying the balance of these two.

 

You could call it the balance of sun and moon (as “ha” and “tha” literally translates), masculine and feminine energy, yin and yang…. or the balance of doing and not doing.

In regular life, we are woefully OUT of balance here. That’s  a big reason savasana is the most important pose.

 

To even reach a state of savasana — fully relaxed awareness — takes an enormous amount of practice. Regularly. That’s why we typically end every yoga class with it — build up to it, in fact — and ideally, it lasts at least 5-10 minutes.

The good news? Even if you’re not reaching a state of fully relaxed awareness, you still get enormous benefits from practicing savasana. Practicing it:

  • lowers blood pressure
  • calms the nervous system
  • reduces headache and fatigue
  • helps to reduce stress
  • helps to relieve insomnia

See for yourself.

 

Grab by guided relaxation audio recording below. It’ll guide you through a delicious, effective, highly rejuvenating savasana experience.

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