My Nemesis: Savasana
I feel so alone in my struggle with Savasana. Article after article espouses the wonder of Savasana, the restorative, miraculous, healing nature of the pose. I recently read that good Savasana is equivalent to a good desert at the end of the meal. Being a huge fan of desert I have tried to approach Savasana this way with limited success. My problem with Savasana include:
- Where do people go? When the teacher says “come back from where ever you are”, where have you been? I, personally, have been laying on my mat. I tried sitting on the beach, listening to the waves crash on the sand, breathing in the salt air. It’s my favorite place to be so this should be easy, right? But the beach is cold and windy, and I never have a towel or chair, and I end up full of sand and shivering. I’ve tried floating on a cloud, but I just fall through. I plummet towards the earth, mired in my practicality and awareness of basic physics. I’ve tried sitting on a mountain top, laying by a river, lounging under my favorite willow tree, all to no avail. In the end, I am on my mat, in my favorite yoga studio, surrounded by the people I admire and yearn to be, but frighteningly present. The one time in my day that I try to not be present is the time I suffer the most in my presence.
- How have you all been breathing? When the teacher says “come back to your breath” do you yogi’s have to do that? I, after spending an hour monitoring, controlling and expanding my breath, am somewhat obsessed with my breathing during Savasana. I can’t seem to forget about my breathing. I count to 4 breathing in, I hold my breath for a count of 2, then I breathe out to a count of 6. I try not to. I try to breathe “naturally”, but I can’t remember what that is, how it feels. I no longer remember what my breathing was when I walked into the studio; natural feels wrong. And, to make matters worse, I feel pride in my breathing. I think “I hope people see how deeply and steadily I’m breathing”. After years of shallow, unfulfilled breathing I marvel at the depth of my breath. My control issues take over, and there is no way I can forget about my breathing.
- Why do you have to awaken your body? My body has laid on my mat for the past 5 minutes, wildly alert and wondering when this time of “peace” will be over. I’m hyper- aware of my body. I’ve scanned my body top to bottom, seeking out areas of tension, only to tighten them more in my attempt to relax. I’ve worked at forcing my rounded shoulders to the ground, so much so that the movement is painful. At the end of Savasana I wiggle my fingers and toes because the teacher told me to but, quite frankly, I don’t need to “awaken” my body, it’s been laying on pins and needles for the past 5 minutes. I pretend to “awaken” in case my teacher or a fellow yogi is watching (embarrassing to admit!) but I could honestly jump right up, roll up my mat, say Namaste and get on with my day.
When I first began Yoga I had one teacher who did guided meditation during Savasana. This class was for those touched by cancer, so the focus of the class was healing and strength. There was one class in which she had us set a beautiful Thanksgiving table, with an expansive cornucopia in the middle. One by one we removed each item from our cornucopia and gave thanks for the items unique qualities that added to our health, strength and healing. Sometimes I still imagine that table and that cornucopia. It was a spectacular table, with gold accents, and crystals which reflected the candlelight and sent prisms of color in every direction. I loved that table! Yet even during this guided meditation, in which I was fully able to envision my table in all it’s splendor, I was still maddeningly aware of my body! One second I’d be at my table and the next back on my mat. One second I’d be picking up a piece of fruit and the next I’d be back on my mat. One second I’d be marveling at the pineapple I’d just retrieved and the next I’d be….well, you get it, right? On My Mat!
I recently attended a class in which we meditated during the prayer Om Mane Padme Hum, sung by Suzanne Sterling. If you haven’t heard it, look it up. It’s beauty belies explanation. Om Mane Padme Hum is a Tibetan Buddist prayer which I am still struggling to understand. I know that Mane Padme Hum, loosely translated, means jeweled lotus and pure. The meaning of Om remains beyond my comprehension. It is an all encompassing word that I can’t explain, but I know how it feels. It opens my chest, it reverberates through my body, and it connects me to my inner self; my soul, my light. I feel at one with myself, our world, each other, while chanting Om. I’ve added this prayer to my meditation, and I often find myself chanting it to myself during Savasana. It is in chanting this prayer that I have come close to that elusive goal of leaving my body, of letting go of my breath.
I hope to one day find myself “coming back” to my body, and I will keep working towards that goal. In the meantime, if you see me wiggle my fingers and toes, please don’t call my bluff!