Get Ambitious About Relaxation

At the end of most yoga classes, there’s a designated few minutes of relaxation we call “shavasana,” where student lie on their backs and just rest. In Sanskrit, shavasana translates as “corpse pose” and is meant to be completely passive. Some yogi’s say it’s the hardest yoga pose of all for uswesterners, as passivity is not cherished in our culture and we tend to champion “yang energy” and action much much more. I don’t think it’s the hardest pose. Most people are fatigued and overworked or overstressed and love relaxation. However, I think it’s the least appreciated one, and it’s one where we cheat the most.

Personally, I have run the gamut when it comes to shavasana. For the first 10 years of my yoga practice, only my body relaxed during shavasana.  I looked like I was shavasana-ing, but my mind was not at rest. (I was thinking about my to-do list or dinner!)

For the next 10 years (when balancing motherhood with career made life hectic and nonstop), I fell asleep within 30seconds of lying in shavasana. (As a yoga teacher I can tell you with assuredness – falling asleep in shavasana is quite common.)  

I’m happy to report that for the last few years, I’ve broken through. My shavasana tends to be authentic relaxation in body and mind. It took a while, but I’m not missing out anymore! 

So what’s my biggest takeaway from going on this 25 year journey and arriving here (finally!) at this “true” shavasana? Doing nothing can be productive. 

Five minutes of relaxation, where you really let go but you do not fall asleep, gives you energy like you’ve taken a two hour nap, AND it reinforces a grounded, calm and aware demeanor, which is such an asset in today’s distracted and unfocused world. Deep bows to shavasana.

I know time can be tight, but gift yourself with shavasana whenever you can. Prioritize it. Ironically, it might be your secret weapon of empowered wellness. Get ambitious about relaxation. 😉