Shavasana is one of my favorite positions in yoga. It’s the one where, at the very end of practice, you get to lie down on the floor and do nothing. At least that’s what I used to think when I first started practicing yoga. Turns out, your body and mind are actually doing a lot.
“After the exertions of the practice, shavasana allows the body a chance to regroup and reset itself. After a balanced practice, the entire body will have been stretched, contracted, twisted and inverted. This means that even the deepest muscles will have the opportunity to let go and shed their regular habits, if only for a few minutes.” – Budilovsky, Joan; Adamson, Eve (2000). The complete idiot’s guide to yoga (2 ed.). Penguin. p. 219.
Wikipedia points out that the physiological benefits of deep relaxation may include:
- a decrease in blood pressure
- a decrease in muscle tension
- a decrease in metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen
- a reduction in general anxiety
- a reduction in the number and frequency of anxiety attacks
- an increase in energy levels and in general productivity
- an improvement in concentration and in memory
- an increase in focus
Yoga has been around since at least the 6th century BCE. Just a little bit longer than Tae Bo. And I really think they were on to something. Yoga incorporates breathing, meditation, and physical energy together for the most fulfilling hour and half. One of my goals on this journey is to incorporate yoga into my rhythm once a week. And since I just started this new journey this week, and went to yoga yesterday, I’m batting 1000.
And I learned something new about Shavasana. It can also mean “death to the past.”
This really resonated with me. The next leg of the journey is so much more challenging than before. Because if I look back at my first round of progress – 20 pounds lost, best shape of my life, skin cleared, energy levels boosted etc…I have to work really hard mentally to not get frustrated, knowing that I couldn’t maintain that…(YET). I have to know that I did it once, I can do it again, and this time, getting the mind right along with the body will have life-long lasting effects.
But to know that the past is dead, that all that really exists – the only thing that is truly REAL, is RIGHT NOW – that is most freeing thought I could experience. I can lie down on that floor, and release the past, and only be here, NOW. This gives me a real chance to live fully, and never have to look back. My favorite word in Hawaiian is IMUA, which means FORWARD! It’s used to motivate outrigger canoe paddlers to use all of their strength to push through the sea toward their destination. This is the only direction we need.
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” – Mahatma Gandhi
*photo by yogarantsandraves.com