Never give up Savasana! Even if you are in a great hurry to run to your daily business, spare at least five minutes for this important pose! These minutes are very precious. You are totally detached from your daily activities, worries and obligations; your mental modality changes and you sort of float in a different realm, embraced by Mother Earth and Nature, enjoying the grace of tranquility. This is where you reap the seeds you sow in your practice – take time to savor them! It is important to recognize and nurture these states of tranquility, sublimity, mental stability and clarity.
In Light on Pranayama B.K.S. Iyengar writes:
“Sava in Sanskrit means a corpse and asana a posture. Thus Savasana is a posture that simulates a dead body, and evokes the experience of remaining in a state as in death and of ending the heart-aches and the shocks that the flesh is heir to. It means relaxation, and therefore recuperation. It is not simply lying on one’s back with a vacant mind and gazing, not does it end in snoring. It is the most difficult of yogic asanas to perfect, but it is also the most refreshing and rewarding.”(Chapter 30, Para. 1. The emphasis on the last sentence is mine).
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I strongly recommend you to read thoroughly the detailed instruction for Savasana Iyengar gives in this chapter – what a penetration and insight!
Savasana is the gate for the more internal limbs of Yoga: Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation). Only when your Savasana practice is sound and regular can you go deep into Pranayama; otherwise it will be just breathing exercises. Savasana teaches you how to draw your senses inward and concentrate – this is the basis for Pratyahara and Dharana. When these are established, Dhyana follows naturally.
Savasana is the art of not-doing, not-acting – just being in the present moment. In our hectic way of life it is so important to learn to pause and relax. Deep relaxation is probably the healthiest thing and the best service you can provide for yourself. Our body is a wondrous machine – the internal organs that are responsible for our health do their job orderly without our conscious intervention, yet, stress is harmful for their proper functioning. Stress disturbs digestion, limits circulation, raises blood pressure and disturbs the proper functioning of all the body’s systems in so many other ways. Relaxation is the key to healthy functioning of the body and mind. In Yoga – the Path to Holistic Health, B.K.S. Iyengar writes:
“If you suffer from stress, you may experience indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, migraine, a feeling of constriction in the diaphragm, breathlessness, or insomnia… Yogic methods of deep relaxation have a profound effect on all the body systems. When a part of the body is tense, blood flow to that area decreases, reducing immunity. Yoga works on that area to relieve tension and improve blood flow to the entire body, stabilizing the heart rate and blood pressure. Rapid, shallow breathing becomes deep and slow, allowing a higher intake of oxygen, and removing stress from the body and the mind.”Yoga – the Path to Holistic Health, Page 179
In the first phase of Savasana use your breath; connect to the rhythm of your breath. Inhalation is the realization of the ‘I AM’, when exhaling dissolve that I AM to Mother Earth. Inhale – let be; Exhale – let go. Inhale – let be; Exhale – let go. Follow that rhythm while giving more emphasis to the letting go of the exhalation.
Then, at some moment stop all conditioning. Do not condition your breath any more. Do not condition your mind anymore – just let go. Stay there, floating, very light and very heavy at the same time. Let the river carry you – do not resist or try to control. When your Savasana becomes deep, you may feel a natural, spontaneous suspension of the breath at the end of exhalation; this suspension brings about a total surrender.
When we connect our smart-phone to a source of electricity, it shows us the energy level of the battery. In the same way, when you lie down in Savasana measure your level of energy. How much is it? 60%? 75%?
Stay in Savasana until you are fully charged – up to 100%.
Today scientists are developing sophisticated chargers that can charge a battery in a few minutes. Can you be totally still and quiet in Savasana to charge and refresh yourself in a few minutes?
The energy source in Savasana is Mother Earth – it is a vast source of energy, of Prana; but we need to connect to it. The charger is powerful, but the connection is not always that great. What disrupts this connection is tension. Only by total surrender, a complete letting go, can we connect to that energy and charge ourselves. Let go of everything: muscular tension, holding, contraction, thoughts, emotions – everything! Just surrender and come close as possible to Mother Earth. Imagine the big Earth under you pulling and hugging your small body and surrender to that pull of gravity.
In Savasana we let go of everything – it is a total renunciation. We surrender our roles, our sense of importance, our sense of self, our ego, our entire personality. We reach our ‘ground zero’. Physiologically, our internal activities – the breathing, heartbeat and metabolism, all become infinitesimal; our mental activity slows down, the conciseness becomes void. So in a sense, we experience ‘a little death’, which is not a bad thing, since once we completely surrender ourselves, we allow something new to be created inside us. When we are in a state of complete surrender, the boundaries between ourselves and the environment surrounding us become blur, there is a sense of merging and dissolving into space. In that moment, our individual characteristics weaken and become insignificant and we feel like everyone else, or like no-one in particular. This feeling of merging into Being is an experience of Kaivalya (full emancipation). Kaivalya means “aloneness”, “solitude”, “detachment” or “isolation”. When we feel like everyone else there is no “other” as such, and hence there is this sense of aloneness.
“.. When fluctuations take place internally or externally, mental and intellectual energies are wasted. In Savasana the internal or emotional upheavals in the mind are stilled…”(Light on Pranayama, Ch. 30 Para. 27)
“Practice Savasana for some ten to fifteen minutes to experience a sense of timelessness. The slightest thought or movement will break the spell and you are once more in the world of time, with a beginning and an end.”(Light on Pranayama, Ch. 30 Para. 30)
Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying
Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void
It is shining, it is shining
Yet you may see the meaning of within
It is being, it is being
Love is all and love is everyone
It is knowing, it is knowing
Tomorrow Never Knows, John Lennon