Pose of the Week: Savasana (part ii)

Saturday, 29 June 2019 13:03
This week’s pose is Savasana. Sava means corpse and Asana means posture or pose. So it’s corpse pose.
This week Savasana is the Pose of the Week to mark the end of term. During the school term each blog I write explores a practice concept sparked by the particular asana I choose. Thanks to all who have commented either via email or stimulated discussion during class based on the blogs.
The blogs, as you have noticed, are not about how to do the asana. You come to class to be taught that particular asana, as you need to see it, have it explained to you and then experience the feel of it in your own body. Yoga is an experiential art. You can’t just read about the asana you have to practice it with your own being -  physically, mentally and intellectually.
Except today - I am going to explain how to do Savasana. In Light on Pranayama by BKS Iyengar dedicates a whole chapter on Savasana, in fact 20 pages (pp. 232-254, in the Crossroad Edition).  Here are some excerpts:
Savasana is a posture that simulates a dead body, and it evokes the experience of remaining in a state as in death and ending the heart-aches and the shocks that the flesh is heir to. It m
eans relaxation, and therefore recuperation. It is not simply lying on one’s back with a vacant mind gazing, nor does it end in snoring. It is the most difficult of yoga asking is too perfect, but it is also the most refreshing and rewarding. (p.233)
“A perfect Savasana needs a perfect discipline. It is easy to relax for a few minutes, but to do so without physical movement or without wavering of the intellect requires long training.
Savasana is performed lying down full length on the back on a blanket spread on the floor. Draw a straight line there [you could draw a real one or an imaginary one] to position the body correctly. Sit on the drawn line with the knees drawn up and the feet together. Gradually lower the back vertebra by vertebra along the line. Place the body accurately so that the middle of the spine lies exactly on the straight line drawn on the floor or blanket. 
Press the feet on the floor, lift the hips as well as the sacroiliac region, and with your hands, move the flesh and the skin from the back waist down towards the buttocks.
First adjust the back of the body. Then adjust the head from the front. The reason for adjusting the head from the front is that from birth the back of the head becomes uneven, because babies lean to one side, with the results that one side of the head gets more compressed than the other. Hence it is important to adjust the head from the front and feel it from the back. Then extend first one leg and then the other fully. Join both the heels and the knees. The joined heels, knees, crotch, centre of the coccyx, the spinal column and the base of the skull should rest exactly on the straight line. Then adjust the front of the body keeping the centre of the eyebrows, the bridge of the nose, chin, sternum, navel and centre of the pubis in line.
To prevent any tilt of the body keep it straight and level. To check draw an imaginary line straight across the centre of the forehead, eyebrows, root of the nose, middle of the lips, chin, throat and sternum, centre of the diaphragm, navel and pubis. Then check that the body is level. Finally stretch and adjust the back of the neck, so that it is centrally placed on the floor.
Pin the apex (inner point) of each shoulder blade to the floor. Roll the skin of the top chest from the collarbones towards the shoulder blades and adjust the back to rest perfectly on the blanket. See that the dorsal and the lumbar areas of the spine rest evenly on either side and the ribs spread out uniformly. About 99% of people do not rest evenly on both buttocks, but rest on one of them.
Keep the feet together and stretch the outer edges of the heels then let the feet fall outwards evenly. The big toes should feel weightless and non-resistant. Persons with stiff legs may keep their feet about a yard apart, as this will enable them to keep the back rested on the floor. If the legs do not feel relaxed, place weights on the upper thighs. This removes tension or hardness in the muscles and keeps the legs quiet. 
The feeling of lying on the floor should be as though the body is sinking into Mother Earth.

Chloe, Carol and Kate in the Wednesday Night’s Intro 1 class
One may be unaware of tension in the palms, the fingers, the soles of the feet or the toes. Watch for and release this tension when and where it occurs and drop these parts back to their correct positions.
First, learn to relax the back of the body from the trunk to the neck, arms and legs. Next relax the front of the body from the pubis to the throat, where emotional upheavals take place, and then from the neck to the crown of the head. In this way learn to relax the entire body.
Experience the feeling of non-existence or emptiness in the pits of the arms, the inner pits of the groins, diaphragm, lungs, spinal muscles and the abdomen. The body then feels like a discarded stick. In correct Savasana the head feels as if it has shrunk.
Learn to silence the tissues of the physical body before dealing with the mind. The gross physical body should be brought under control before one proceeds to quiet the subtler mental and intellectual bodies.
Complete serenity of the body is the first requisite, and it is the first sign of attaining spiritual tranquility. There is no emancipation of the mind unless there is a feeling of serenity in all parts of the body. Silence in the body will bring about silence in the mind.
The aim in Savasana is to keep the body at rest, the breathing passive, while the mind and intellect are gradually sublimated. When fluctuations take place internally and externally, mental and intellectual energies are wasted. In Savasana the internal or emotional upheavals in the mind are stilled, bringing about a state of manolaya (manas meaning mind and layameaning immersion). Then the mind, free from fluctuations, dissolves and merges in the self, like a river in the sea. It is a negative state of passivity described in the Yoga texts as ‘empty’, a merging of one's identity at the emotional level. Then the Sadhaka (the spiritual aspirant) prevents the incoming thoughts which distract and dissipates his/her intellectual energy. At this level he/she experiences a state of clarity where are the intellect is in full command and does not allow invading thoughts to disturb it. This is pure being.
To achieve this state, that Sadhaka must develop discrimination. This in turn will lead to clarity and enable him/her to relax better. When clarity is gained, doubts banish, bringing illumination.” (pp.233-251)
Next term starts Monday 15 July.  In the meantime, join the Open Level classes during the term break timetable. Come along on your unlimited Bridge Pass, current 10 class pass or membership. https://yogapath.punchpass.com/passes/61068
See you on the mat :)
Nicole Schroeter
Certified Iyengar Teacher
Yoga Path
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