I love everything about yoga, but savasana is my favorite. Years ago when we lived in Brussels, and my life was crowded with the care and feeding of children, dogs, a cat, and a man in uniform, I dared to sign up for a yoga class at the British School. Dared because one child was taking college courses in downtown Brussels, one was in high school, one was in middle school, the youngest was in grade school, the oldest, not yet 18, was a college freshman, and lonely, half a world away, and the only time we saw the man in uniform was when he needed a clean shirt or change of underwear. It was a bit of a nightmare keeping track but a voice in my head was screaming for something that was for me only. Ergo - yoga, a daring move.
Not that I learned anything, neither poses nor breathing nor mindfulness. The main benefit was an hour's relaxation. No phones, no chattering children, no demands, no deadlines. Just me, on the mat, sound asleep - until the class ended and the instructor's tactful cough penetrated the fog. Embarrassed, I mumbled something incoherent and slunk away.
"Please God, tell me that at least I wasn't snoring," I offered up as I drove home.
No heavenly reassurances were forthcoming so I quit.
Besides, why would I spend my husband's hard earned money for an hour's sleep when I had a perfectly good bed at home?
Fast forward a few decades..... We've moved to Florida. The man in uniform is adjusting to being in his own house during daylight hours, the children are scattered to the four winds, at least four of the five practicing yoga to some degree, the dogs are doing their downward dog in Doggy Heaven and the Little Blister, in Ireland, is undergoing intensive training to become a yoga instructor.
As you can imagine, it's much quieter now than it was in Brussels. So, I dared again. Dared because I'm older now and so are my bones; my joints creak --- the chances of success are dubious. But, realizing that life does not go on forever, I have, in general, become more daring.
And it worked! I can do it. Everybody else is concentrating so hard on breathing and not falling over that they don't even hear the rusty hinges creaking away on my mat.
On a visit to oldest daughter one recent summer I blithely toddled along with her to her yoga class (she never falls asleep on the mat.) In less than five minutes I knew it would be wiser to sit and watch rather than risk permanent injury. There is yoga. And then there is yoga. Twenty- or thirty-something I am not. Nor am I a pretzel.
By now, if you've read this far, you're probably wondering "Yes, but what does this have to do with "savasana"? Patience my lovelies. I think one of the reasons I started blogging was to indulge my penchant for verbal meandering which is not always encouraged in these parts, the point, and getting to it, being prized above all else. Blogging seemed like a benign outlet.
Savasana, the relaxation pose at the end of every class, lasts from five to10 minutes. I enjoy the class, I enjoy the challenge of new poses, I'm glad that something I like to do is actually good for me. But it is the "carrot" of savasana that helps me put in that extra effort, breathe that little bit deeper. Without it I might spend a lot more time in child's pose.
Time for savasana! I gather my blanket, my eye pillow and my bolster, wiggle my tail feathers and settle eagerly into the mat.
One recent class, at savasana, we had a guided meditation. We were to imagine ourselves on a beach. No problem. I've never been to a beach I didn't like. I lay listening to the crash of waves on the shore and the whispered "shhh" as they flowed back out; listening to Mother Nature inhaling, exhaling .
The instructor's soothing voice told us to imagine a balloon in our hand. Into the balloon, one at a time, we were to put all our troubles, all our worries, all the things that keep us awake at night. One by one I mentally stuff all those things into my balloon (which is red, just so you know.)
The voice continues, telling us to lift our balloons up, to let the wind catch and carry them away, off into the blue. I lie there, in a dream, watching my red balloon drift higher and further 'til I can hardly see it at all.
Too soon the beach fades. Class is over, time to roll up the mats. But this time I'm not embarrassed. I feel calm (all that mindful breathing!) and happy to have sent all my worries off into the ether. They're not gone forever. I know they'll be back but, at least for now, yoga has brought me peace and serenity. What's not to love?