Published on November 21, 2022
I Wanna Savasana
Breathe in, breathe out.
It can be challenging to find balance and peace in your busy schedule. Yoga is a 5,000-year-old discipline with a wide variety of mental and physical benefits including soothing the mind and lowering stress levels. While there are many different types of yoga, almost every yoga practice shares the final resting pose, Savasana. Katherine Miliken, yoga instructor at Servus Credit Union Place, shares her thoughts the importance of this pose and why you should think twice before skipping it.
If you have ever attended one of my yoga classes you may have heard me say “labour is a craft, but perfect rest is an art.” I cannot take credit for this quote, as it was Abraham Joshua Heschel who coined that phrase in the early 1900s. Although written almost a century ago, Heschel’s words are relevant in today’s day and age as the culture of busy-ness remains commonplace.
Taking a yoga class is a beautiful way to stretch, slow down, unplug and take time to rest. In fact, after a series of stretching and strengthening exercises, the last part of a yoga class is devoted to rest. Savasana, as it is called, is a Sanskrit term which translates to ‘corpse pose’ and usually lasts between five and ten minutes. BKS Iyengar was an instrumental yoga teacher and in his seminal work Light on Yoga he explains the meaning of Savasana: “By remaining motionless for some time and keeping the mind still while are you fully conscious, you learn how to relax. This conscious relaxation invigorates and refreshes both body and mind. But it is much harder to keep the mind than the body still. Therefore, this apparently easy pose is one of the most difficult to master.”
Indeed, keeping the mind still is challenging but Savasana offers a small pocket of time to practice such quiet relaxation. To relax in Savasana is to rest deeply; no movement and no effort is required.
The fitness industry also embraces the idea of post-workout rest. By taking time to slow down, you are conserving energy and resisting muscle fatigue. In The Science of Flexibility, M.J. Alber explains that “the combined efforts of [stretching] and relaxation gives the participant the opportunity to focus on the body, how it feels, how it works, and therefore makes the connection to the mind-body relationship.” On a cellular level, immediate rest or short-term recovery allows your body to replenish its energy stores (called muscle glycogen) as well as provides time for your body tissues to repair. While most yoga flow classes are not high-intensity workouts, Savasana is a calming way to close your practice and settle into your body.
Sometimes I see a student sneaking out of class before Savasana. I get it, life happens! I applaud the fact that participants engage in yoga classes for their physical and mental well-being. If you must leave class early, situate yourself near the door to minimize noise and disruption. If you are not able to complete Savasana in class, take a spare moment later in your day to rest. A yoga practice without Savasana is an incomplete practice. As Heschel poetically explained, “perfect rest is an art,” and rest is something worth practicing.
Yoga is available for all ages and fitness levels at Servus Place through drop-in Flow classes or registered Mind Body programs like Hatha Yoga, Gentle Yoga for Spinal Health, Hip Flow and Strong Core and more.
Annual members at Servus Place gain access to over 50 drop-in classes at no additional cost and receive a 15% discount on all registered programs. Learn more about the benefits of an annual membership to Servus Place and get started on your fitness and wellness journey today!
Shlain, Tiffany. 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week. New York: Gallery Books, 2019
Iyengar, B.K.S. Light on Yoga: The Definitive Guide to Yoga Practice. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1966
Alter, M.J. Science of Flexibility, 3rd ed. Champaign, Il: Human Kinetics, 2004
Swartzendruber, Kris. “The Importance of Rest and Recovery for Athletes.” Michigan State University Extension, October 8, 2013
Last edited: November 21, 2022