Sometimes in yoga magazines people are asked their favourite yoga pose and often the answer is a strong posture such as head stand or arm balance or something that looks pretty impressive.
Surprisingly enough, especially when you first start yoga, one of the more difficult parts of the practice is the one at the end where you lie on your mat in Savasana (Corpse pose) and …relax..I met someone who taught yoga in an urban gym and she said that several people left the class at the start of relaxation to rush off somewhere else, either not seeing the point of it or not enjoying it. In fact, many yoga students who can happily do all the active, seemingly complicated poses struggle with just lying on the floor.
True relaxation is an art and like anything else needs to be learned and improves with practice. It doesn’t happen on demand and anyone who goes along to their first yoga class expecting to be able to switch off their mind instantly is going to be disappointed. However taking time out to replenish energy is an antidote to stress and is important for living well.
When you first start practising Savasana you may lie there feeling tense and uncomfortable, wondering how much longer it’s going to go on; or you might worry that you are going to drop off and snore. Gradually though it gets easier.
In the full version of the pose, you rest the whole body on the floor, head central, legs out straight feet rolling out to the corners of the mat and arms a little away from the body palms upward, fingers lightly curled. With each exhalation, the body sinks down into the floor and becomes peaceful.
The full version is unlikely to suit everyone though including beginners and so most good yoga teachers will be able to suggest alternative ways of lying so everyone can be comfortable. If you’re physically uncomfortable there isn’t a chance you can start to relax the mind.
Ideas include elevating the lower legs on a chair or lying in semi supine to support the lower back; you could place a rolled up blanket under the knees or a cushion under the head; you might need a blanket underneath you -or if it’s very uncomfortable to lie on your back you could lie on the side or even sit for relaxation. If you don’t like closing the eyes, keep them open.
Hopefully your yoga teacher will introduce you to different relaxation techniques and if you don’t expect too much too soon, eventually there will be something that works for you. It could be that Savasana becomes your favourite part of the practice and you’ll be asking your teacher if it can be extended by a few more minutes.