Fine tune your approach to Corpse Pose through an exploration of varying teaching philosophies.
By Sara Avant Stover
You rest on your mat, palms facing up, feet splayed apart. Energy pulses through your limbs. Your breath slows down as the cool air on your skin, the gentle weight of the wool blanket on your body, and the sound of buzzing traffic outside pervade your senses. Hovering in the magical realm between sleep and wakefulness, you settle into Savasana, the Corpse Pose, and a gentle smile melts across your face.
For many yoga students, Savasana reigns as the dessert of their class experience. The deliciousness of relaxed stillness offers the perfect counterpose to busy lives. You want your students to get the most out of Savasana as possible, but if you teach often it's easy to get stuck in the same Savasana routine. Drawing from the wisdom of different yoga traditions may help you incorporate moments of meditative rest more effectively.
The Profundity of Stillness
"Sava means corpse in Sanskrit, and Savasana is a preparation for a conscious death in which supreme consciousness that is everywhere and in everything is released," says Suzie Hurley, Senior Certified Anusara Yoga teacher and director of Willow Street Yoga in Takoma Park, Maryland.
By emulating a corpse through conscious relaxation, one symbolically dies in order to be born anew. During Savasana we have the opportunity to relinquish our individual limitations in order to merge with a power greater than ourselves.
"Savasana is where people are most likely to experience the meaning of yoga, which is their conscious unity with Infinity," says Erich Schiffmann, author of Moving into Stillness and a teacher at Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, California. "You lie there and look dead, but as you relax and sink into the feeling of the very alive energy that is being you, it literally feels like you come to life again."
Before, During or After?
Usually, people think of Savasana as the final pose of a class-as Schiffman notes, it's "a time when the effects of the poses can soak in.
However, not all schools of yoga agree that it has to be at the end of the practice session.
"Performed at the beginning of a session, it is a way of settling into the feeling of peace so your practice comes from a centered place," Schiffman says.
In the Bihar/Satyananda tradition, Savasana is often used before asana to release tension so that movements can be more conscious and integrated.
When Savasana comes first, asana practice goes from being "just a physical exercise to a meditative process with a quality of deep relaxation and presence," says Swami Karma Karuna, a Bihar/Satyananda teacher and the founding director of Anahata Yoga Retreat in New Zealand.
Others choose to intersperse Savasana between other poses, as a reminder to relax on an ongoing basis.
Janice Gates, author of Yogini, the Power of Women in Yoga and the president of the International Association of Yoga Therapists, teaches in the Krishnamacharya lineage, with an emphasis on the meditative and therapeutic aspects of practice. In this tradition, one teaches Savasana during yoga practice as a way to rest between poses to regain energy and alertness.
Gates translates this into her teaching by asking students to pause between groups of postures to allow students to tune into subtle changes and to move into the next group of postures more engaged and mindful.
Read the full text article at Yoga Journal