The Deliciousness of Śavāsana
If you ask any Yogi what their favourite pose is the most common answer is probably Śavāsana, the final resting pose at the end of the class. The period of the class where we get to relax completely, let go of everything and settle into ourselves for a few moments. I’m sure many people use this time to have a nap or plan the rest of their days or think about what they’re going to cook for supper, but this pose is not an invitation do to any of those things. It is an invitation to CONSCIOUSLY relax, to SURRENDER to this moment right now, to stay 100% present with the natural breath and just be.
Śavāsana is translated as “corpse pose” and for all intents and purposes (and in no morbid way it all), it is our opportunity to practise how to die. Practising Yoga asana on our mats is very much like a training ground. We learn all these incredible lessons and gather amazing tools that we can take off the mat and into the world. We get to learn these lessons in a safe place, without judgement or fear of failure and once we learn these lessons we have them in our bank to use in our daily lives. This is most relevant to Śavāsana. We are given the opportunity to let go and surrender EVERYTHING for a few moments. We surrender our bodies down to the earth, we surrender our emotions and we consciously surrender our thoughts. We lie in a state of total acceptance and surrender. We allow our bodies to assimilate everything that has happened during the class, to gather all those amazing benefits and let them settle into our very cells. Now, doesn’t that sound like a peaceful way to die? We prepare ourselves for this in every single class. We prepare our bodies and our minds for that final surrender so that when we actually do get there in our lives we recognise it and have the tools to accept that final step of this lifetime and surrender into whatever is next.
If you’ve been practising Yoga for a while you’ve definitely heard of Patanjali and his 8-limbed path to enlightenment (If you’ve never heard of him, click here to watch my tutorial), but have you heard of his 1-step path to enlightenment?
Patanjali’s 1-step path to enlightenment is simply to surrender. We practice Yoga to reach enlightenment. We do all this in order to be happy and free. We work our ass off on the mat, we sweat, we shake, we cry, we do the work off the mat, we study the scriptures, we study ourselves, we magnify kindness and compassion, we do all this WORK to become enlightened. Ironically, Patanjali says that all that work is not actually necessary. He says all we have to do is surrender.
The teachings of Yoga tell us that we are the Universe made manifest to learn certain lessons. Each of us is the entire universe wrapped up in our individual forms. When we say Namaste to each other, we are saying “the divine light in me recognises, appreciates and respects the divine light in you”. We acknowledge our divinity and our connection with source energy. We also acknowledge that we practice Yoga to clear the human stuff that we have encased ourselves in to remember who we truly are. We do these practices to remind ourselves of our divinity, to remind ourselves that we are God. Our dear Patanjali says “Īśvara-praṇidhāna vā”. His one-step path to enlightenment translated means “By giving your life and identity to God you attain the identity of God.” It's a sure-fire way to achieve Yoga. This Sutra has zero religious connotations, just as Yoga has zero religious connotations. It is simply stating that when you accept that you are divine, that you are the universe, that you are the higher power and surrender to that fact, then there is no other choice but to be happy, free and content. And this, right here, is the work.
I’m not sure about you but that expectation of Master Patanjali is quite full-on. That is why I have chosen the Raja path, the 8-limbed path to enlightenment which includes asana, pranayama, working on myself, learning boundaries, being kind and compassionate and learning moment by moment to surrender and accept. Good on you if you can read that Sutra and immediately achieve enlightenment, but I think the rest of us who aren’t quite there yet use this practice to learn how.
The next time you settle your body into Śavāsana, try to remember what I’ve written here about this phenomenal pose. Remember the intention behind it, the essence of it, the resonance of the Sanskrit vibrational aspect of the word itself- corpse pose, practising how to surrender absolutely and unconditionally. Giving yourself the permission to sink deeply into the divine light inside you, allowing yourself to remember your own divinity, your own holiness. Reminding yourself that you are God.
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