“Out of the strain of doing, into the peace of done.”
~Julia Louis Woodruff
As beginning students, most of us do not need any explanation concerning savasana, or the intentional rest at the end of class. We arrive at our first yoga classes psychically drained, old before our time. To be invited to just lie back and do nothing for five minutes after 90 minutes of asanas feels like an amazing gift. Blessed with a beginner’s mind, we simply lie back and are grateful.
As the weeks turn into months however, yoga becomes assimilated into our busy lives. We squeeze class in between our other commitments, and by the end of the practice we are already planning for, worrying about, or controlling the next item on our to-do lists. Sometimes we give savasana a concerted effort, more often than not, we don’t. The postures are going to give us tangible results, after all; savasana is just some nice spiritual ritual, like saying grace at Thanksgiving dinner. As beginners, we understood the power of class being over, of pausing to take something in, the balance of giving and receiving. We were happy to cultivate a competence in endings, glad to lie back and let go. As more “advanced” students, we forget all of that.
Yoga with the Champions reminded us of the necessity of savasana. Beginning Class with Ky and six hours of postures with Dev and Gloria for five days warranted a long pause. We needed recovery. Students from Italy, London, New York, Florida and Texas had committed to this adventure. We were in it together. Many of us achieved postures we never thought possible, and it was inspiring. We made new friends and reconnected with old ones. For Jeff and me, the learning did not end at the studio. I vividly recall working on handstands with Dev for three hours. I would do it all over again. To learn from such masters is a very rare treat. I am forever grateful.
In the midst of five days of transformation, Dev brought us back to the basics. He asked me, “Why do your students leave early during the savasana?” I didn’t have a good answer for him. “Without the proper savasana, they gain only 50% of the benefit of the class.” He was right.
In savasana, we encounter non-doing. We embrace being. We oppose the goal-driven striving of the Western world with deep stillness. You realize that from the beginningless beginning you have been complete and whole as you are. This supreme truth is the most difficult for us to accept. There is nothing to be attained. It was during the Yoga with the Champions that I realized this truth again and began again to lie back and be grateful.
Check out our Yoga with the Champions Facebook photo album to see beautiful, inspirational pictures of yourself and fellow yogis.
~ Mardy Chen