Today in yoga teacher training we discussed the many ways to experience savasana, the period of rest at the end of a yoga practice, and the ways that some participants can find it difficult. Problems with savasana may sound strange to some, but for me the notion is very familiar.
The problems with savasana for me start with the simple act of lying down. When I roll down as part of a practice I am fine, but to simply lie down I feel a fair amount of pain across my chest (post-surgical recovery is a journey, not a destination). It then takes several seconds of moving my shoulders and chest to get to a place where there is simply a dull ache rather than a sharp pain. I lie there, flat on my back, staring up at the ceiling which usually has a bright light glaring down at me. You know, like a surgical suite.
In savasana you are supposed to be at rest, but when I am in that posture it feels at once anxiety provoking yet peaceful. The ache, the posture, and looking up into the light before closing my eyes all bring me back to going unconscious right before surgery. A little anxiety provoking. But what happened to me on that surgical table? I put myself into the hands of strangers who used skill, will, care, and technology to give my heart an extra billion or so beats.
Savasana literally means “corpse pose”, but for me it represents both my brief foray into death and my rebirth. Purposefully putting myself into a posture that causes anxiety may defeat the point of savasana, but the little pains associated with it are a reminder of coming back to life. It isn’t always a comfortable place, but it is a place where I am glad to be.