The Final Pose
When it’s time for savasana, after the asana practice, we begin to shift gears back to stillness. We close the eyes, relax the muscles, abandon all bandhas and mudras, and let the breath flow freely.
When Richard’s teaching, he’ll often remind us that even the ears open and relax into listening, that the navel feels deep, and that “the tongue is silent, letting everything be, just as it is.”
By far this is my favorite part of the mat routine: when I get to just lie there soaking up the delicious prana. Prana, the vital energies, that—for the past hour or two—I’ve methodically skimmed from the sun, the air, the earth via the ujjayi breath and the postures of the Ashtanga Vinyasa series. Having juiced the flesh and opened up the senses, with sweat now evaporated and cool, my body is prepped and ready to receive.
“The essence of the pose is to embody complete balance in all directions,” he says, “and also to find equanimity between the state of being completely alert and that of being absolutely relaxed.”
It’s important to remain in the corpse at least until the heart and breathing rates slow down. But it’s even better to stay longer to completely soak in the residue of the practice, integrating the benefits more fully.
I enjoy even more the savasana after pranayama practice, as the breathing practice is all about watching, observing, staying alert and open, and relishing the smallest sensations. At Kaivalyadham (i.e., the pranayama school in India), they remind us again and again that respiratory fatigue is a big no-no. If you feel any fatigue or straining at all during practice, lie down in savasana, as my classmate Thomas is doing in this photo. Don’t push yourself, and do not allow your heart rate to accelerate. You may slowly sit up and continue the practice once rested.