I know it’s a shocker, but many people misinterpret savasana as sleeping! Despite all the wrap-your-leg-around-your head-and-balance-on-one-hand poses I might teach, savasana is the yoga pose that is most challenging for people to understand. Why? Because it’s so simple. And so important. In fact, it’s the most important pose of the entire yoga class.
In Myths of the Asanas, authors Alanna Kaivalya and Arjuna van der Kooij assert that savasana “represents the surrender of all things that are foreign to our soul. When we have completed our yoga practice and given it our best, it is time to let go.” Maybe it is this mystery of letting go that leads people to crowd at the door or window of the studios, boardrooms, and classrooms where I teach and whisper: Why are they lying on the floor with their eyes closed? WHY ARE THEY SLEEPING ON THE JOB?!?
Adult mid-day nap jealousy aside, savasana really is the most important pose of the entire yoga practice. Yoga asana is designed to prepare the body to sit for meditation, and savasana is the pose at the end of class that allows the body, mind, and spirit to integrate all the benefits of the physical practice. It can also be a transition pose between asana and meditation, easing your concentration from external to internal practices.
How do you do it? Lie down on the floor on your back, let your feet and hands relax open, and close your eyes. Think of savasana as a re-set button for your mind, body, and spirit. If you fall asleep during those precious 5 minutes, all it means is that you are relaxed. And that you need more sleep! Savasana is the one pose that most leads to wide-eyed wonder for my first-time yoga students. As one of my freshly minted yogis excitedly asked me after class on Sunday, “How do I return to this ecstasy?”
Simple: Take a yoga class. And at the end, rather than rushing off to your next pressing engagement, be sure to take 5 minutes to close your eyes and relax on your back. It is healing, transformative, and the very best gift you can give yourself. And after recharging your batteries, integrating the benefits of your physical efforts in asana, and just plain relaxing for FIVE MINUTES, you’ll no longer need that nap at your desk!