The final posture in yoga class is savasana, also known as corpse pose.
It’s widely known as the most important, but also the most challenging posture of any practice.
Which, if you’ve ever taken a class before, might seem a bit strange. Because students are just lying on their mats. Arms and legs are spread, eyes are closed and their whole bodies are relaxing onto the floor with an awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each breath.
To the untrained eye, people are just taking a nap in a hot room with a bunch of sweaty strangers. Why pay twenty dollars an hour for that?
But it’s harder than in it looks. Especially at the end of class, when the reflex is to roll up your mat and towel, grab your water bottle and high tail it out of the room so you can get the good shower and avoid eye contact with that weirdo in the locker room and snag a bagel from the street vendor and catch the nine o’clock train and make into work on time.
And so, the challenge of final savasana isn’t physical as much as it is psychological. We have to take time to give that gift to ourselves. We have to believe that we are deserving of our own care and attention. And we have to accept that generosity and kindness without guilt, trusting that we are not the only ones who benefit when we love ourselves.
My yoga instructor once said, think of the breath as an index of your generosity with yourself.
After all, savasana is a safe haven from the whirling chaos and madness of the rest of the world. There is no better place to get happy in a hurry.
It all depends on how good you’re willing to have it right now.
Perhaps the ancient yogis named it corpse pose for that very reason. To remind us to die to our attachments and just breathe.
What generosity of spirit are you capable of that you never considered?
Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.