Dear readers, say hello to Agni. She is our anonymous columnist who will be responding to your questions about what happens on and off the mat in the yoga world. She is a yoga practitioner and teacher with several decades of yoga experience. She has had many amazing teachers, and even more amazing students. She chose the “nom de plume” Agni in homage to “Dear Abby”, and because she hopes to help us burn down our obstacles to joy and freedom. Send Agni the questions you won’t ask your own yoga teacher at – no topic is taboo.
Dear Agni,

It seems like long savasanas have gone out of style. When I first started practicing it was standard for it to last about 10 minutes at the end of every class, now it seems like it’s a couple of minutes and done. Why?!? I want it back!!Craving Corpse (or “Savasana Stickler”)


Craving Corpse,

I like your style! Sounds like it’s time for the Savasana Police to get to work enforcing a MINIMUM five minute savasana for all yoga classes. It’s regulation, folks! But seriously, you’re lucky that you started your yoga journey with such “long” savasanas! What a terrific gift from your early teachers – and fortunate that you enjoyed and appreciated the resting time.

The Sanskrit word savasana, pronounced “shuhvahsana,” means corpse pose. As you might imagine, this means we lie on our backs and practice the posture of a corpse. It is intended as both an opportunity for relaxation and a period of integration for the preceding practices. Our bodies and minds need time to absorb and digest a yoga practice; savasana is the reset button.

So why skip it? Increasingly, people are busy. They squeeze in a yoga class as a way to get physical activity and some mental flossing in the midst or at the end of their workday and may not want to slow down enough to rest. Teachers, sensing this, often maximize asana and minimize relaxation. And everyone loses!

Truth is, our modern hyper-attentiveness is hard to power down. Many of us live in the sympathetic response of our autonomic nervous system, also known as fight or flight. Our devices and lifestyles give our bodies the message that they must be on guard all the time to protect us and keep us ready to flee. This makes it difficult to switch to the parasympathetic response – rest and digest – which is where a nice long savasana comes in.

You are on to something very important, and I encourage you to speak up! Let your teachers and the place where you practice know that you would like to see longer savasanas. You’re not alone, and it’s worth fighting for! Barring that, make your own savasana. Ten to fifteen minutes before your class is scheduled to end get yourself set up for final relaxation—grab a blanket, bolster and eye pillow and drop out of the movement to claim your inner corpse!

[Photo by emily balsley– CC BY]

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