The Savasana Dilemma: Part Two
by: Libby Young
Let’s begin with starting steps. The first and most important step you can make
when tackling the ever so difficult Savasana is to identify what type of relaxation
helps you the most. We all have a dominant sense. It’s not necessarily the sense we
rely on most on a day-to-day basis, but the sense that we connect with emotionally
the most. Usually it’s one, though it can be multiple senses. Find which one helps you
unwind and let go of that constant barrage of mind chatter for a longer period of
time. There’s sight, smell, sound and touch.
I start with sight because this is the sense that people connect with the most. We are
visual creatures. So it is natural for us to need that visualization when relaxing. For
most of us, when we close our eyes, we still see images. It’s easy to get overloaded
When practicing visual meditation, try to imagine a place. Really see the detail. It
doesn’t have to be a waterfall or a valley; it could be the red dusty landscape of Mars
or a busy office. Just as long as it is somewhere. This is where a lot of people
practicing visual relaxation stop. My advice to you is keep going. Start on a path in
this mental setting. If you are picturing a waterfall, maybe you walk along the edge
of the moss-covered rocks, behind the falls only to find a secret cave entrance. You
step in the cave and feel the cool air on your face and explore deeper. Maybe in the
busy office you walk around the cubicles and like a fly on the wall you are able to
listen to people’s telephone conversations or watch them sneaking office supplies
into their bag without them seeing or hearing you. When visualizing, make it a
journey. Make it something that is not just calming to you but interesting. This will
keep your mind from engaging in those pesky interrupting thoughts. If you are
focusing on wandering around your mental destination, you won’t be thinking about
with these pictures or video style clips.
the toothpaste you forgot to pick up at the store.
Feel free to light candles and slather on those oh so delicious essential oils. Finding a
scent like this, one that calms you, releases that tension, is important. But smell isn’t
just for these products. Next time you are in a coffee shop, close your eyes (I
promise no one will look up from their laptops and phones to see you doing this).
What do you smell? You can do this exercise anywhere. The woods, a pond, Maitri.
Put your sniffer into bloodhound mode. Good or bad, try to figure out what you
smell and what affect that smell has on you. Using your nose to free up the mind is
easier than it sounds; you’ve just got to think outside of that oiled box. I still feel
comforted every time I smell clean laundry or the way my dad’s house smells. Scents
like these can trigger emotional releases otherwise unable to by the eyes or ears.
The nose really does know.
Ah music for the soul. We all have that one song that we’ve played on repeat about
22 times. Or that one specific playlist for each and every mood. A playlist for
cooking, for breaking up, just for dancing, or for that night when you just want to
punch someone. Maybe you even have an inspirational playlist for making new
playlists. It’s not hard to feel connected to music. Find those songs that help you
unwind. But just like the nose, the ears can play a bigger part too. Listen to sounds of
life. Try to isolate sounds and identify them and, of course, recognize how they make
you feel. Birds chirping, the crackle of a fire, even white noise like rain or radio
static. Even listening to the person breathing next to you in Savasana during a lead
class. As creepy as that sounds, that noise alone can help you tie your own breath to
it, helping you focus and relax. Once again freeing your mind from those loud
In my opinion touch is one of the most underrated senses when it comes to
meditation. Of course, when we think of touch and relaxing, the first two things that
come to our minds are either sexual or massage therapy oriented. While both of
these are indeed relaxing and wonderful for tension release, they are not exactly
accessible or appropriate during Savasana (especially in a group class).
When I did my teacher training, I was led through a touch meditation class. The first
thing that I emphasize is no one, including myself, actually touched me. Instead, the
teacher simply talked me through contact points to bring my focus to. I was to feel
the different points on my body where I could feel my clothes touching. They talked
me through focusing on the way the air felt around my nostrils as I inhaled and
exhaled. It was incredible and it’s now one of my favorite ways to meditate.
Everything that had a contact point held a sensation: the ground, the air, vibrations
from a voice. After about twenty minutes of intense touch meditation I felt like a
superhuman. Every little sensation was heightened. And more importantly, I was
relaxed. My mind was empty. Which is always the goal of Savasana, to clear that
Next time you are in Corpse Pose, focus on that touch. The way your mat feels
against your back, the way your clothes feel as they shift around as you breath, try
to pinpoint everything on your body that has a physical feeling. You might be
busy, busy mind.
surprised at how quickly your mind lets go.
Savasana is the hardest pose to master. But identifying the easiest way your body
and mind relaxes can be an immense help. Experiment with different ways to relax;
experiment with combinations of the senses. So get comfortable! Grab a bolster, a
pillow, a blanket and allow yourself the elusive rest you deserve.