as yoga has become more popular and mainstream" many of us have discovered its amazing benefits to our bodies. only occasionally will a teacher share the deeper levels of yoga practice. there is one asana/pose that suffers especially from this lack of attention. most yoga teachers call it "final relaxation". that's a misnomer. a few might be brave enough to call it "corpse pose". that's more accurate. shava means 'corpse' in sanskrit. asana literally means 'seat', or 'a place to be'. shavasana is a place to be like a corpse.
this ending to a yoga class is designed to bring us as close to the experience of death as we might have while still alive. i consider it the most difficult pose in the yoga canon. i had the privilege of teaching yoga for many years and my students always looked surprised when i made this statement. how could this relaxation posture be so difficult, even more difficult than headstand or the full lotus? how could simply lying on the floor be the most challenging pose?
to come to complete stillness in body, breath and mind is a remarkable feat, one that yoga practitioners explore for a lifetime. this is the most important yoga practice there is...the preparation for death.
when we enter into shavasana there is certainly a sense of relaxation. as we go deeper, there is the realisation of profound openness and coherence, wholeness, oneness...union. the word yoga itself means 'union', and shavasana is the opportunity to experience that state. or we can aspire to and practice entering that state! we elders, who are approaching the end of our time alive, can consciously rehearse, so to speak, without going to a formal yoga class.
we can prepare, consciously, for dying and death in order to live life with greater awareness, deeper gratitude and more abundant joy.
(shavasana, part two, will be posted shortly. please visit again.)