Because you just lie there. There’s nothing to bend or stretch or compress or hold. And you don’t have to scowl at the hero next to you who’s contorting his body into a human pretzel while you stand there hating yourself. You simply allow your body to recover from any physical stress brought on from previous poses, releasing any lactic acid buildup acquired during a practice, giving the body a chance to rejuvenate.
Sweet, glorious relaxation.
And yet, savasana is a surprisingly difficult pose to master. Because in the absence of a physical challenge, your brain and your body begin searching for little projects to do. You start wiping sweat and shuffling your legs and adjusting your costume and scratching that pesky itch behind your ear. And then, your mind starts churning with to do lists and dinner recipes and comebacks you should have said to coworkers earlier that day.
It’s a universal human experience. We struggle against the silence and the stillness. In fact, there’s even a name for it. Patanjali’s sacred texts named this phenomenon chitta vritti, meaning, mind chatter or whirling consciousness. The tendency of our brains to flutter about from one thought to the next, and our bodies to fidget around as a result. Some even call it monkey mind.
But during savasana, my yoga instructor often says the following. Surrender yourself and trust the floor to support your body weight. In fact, sometimes he even encourages us to picture our skin melting into the floor. It’s the perfect visual to help students reach stillness and silence in the posture.
And the best part is, the yoga meets you halfway. It notices you trusting the foundation and rewards you for surrendering.
What will be possible to you once you stop resisting stillness?
Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.