When you are trained as a yoga teacher, you make a promise. It is similar to the Hippocratic oath for doctors. We promise to end a yoga practice with rest, with the pose called savasana. In savasana, you allow the body to fully integrate the effort and movement of the practice. You honor the power and brilliance of your body, no matter where it is and the time you took for your practice. You seal your experience, so you are ready for what is ahead.
I was taught, and I believe that savasana is the most important pose of the entire practice.
At a much bigger scale, the end of the year is similar to savasana. You have put so much energy and effort into the year so far. Can there be time for integration, reflection and appreciation in the last weeks of 2017?
Here are three ways you might practice a year-end savasana in the next few weeks.
A daily 20-minute savasana practice: Yoga teachers will tell you that a 20-minute savasana is more restorative than sleep and there is research about the different brain waves that are affected. What really matters is your ability to relax and find peace while still being awake. I recommend finding some amazing music (I love Shamanic Dreams or this piece by GreenredProductions.)
Find a quiet, cozy spot and a soft blanket. If you have an eye pillow use that and then get comfortable and just lie there and watch your breath. That is is. Just relax. When the thoughts come up just let them be clouds floating across your mind. If happiness or sadness come up, just allow it. 20 minutes. Every day.
A restorative yoga practice: Not all yoga is the same and restorative is a flavor of yoga that is delicious. If you visit a yoga studio there are lots of props in a restorative class, bolsters and blankets, all to help you relax and be comfortable. In a 60-minute class you might be in 4-5 poses and you are in these for from 5-15 minutes. The instructor is there to help you and the space is typically set up with low lighting to support your relaxation.
Search for restorative yoga at the yoga studio near you or try this practice with Yoga Su. It is an hour and about 15 minutes, no music and the props are mostly ones you will have at home. There is no music so lots of quiet or you can play your own in the background and I like her soothing voice. You may even decide to put a yoga bolster on your holiday wish list after this practice.
A Yin yoga practice: Yin is slightly different than a restorative yoga practice. It is a bit more active to help release tension in the joints for some nice flexibility and tension. Adriene has a nice 30-minute Yin practice where you can use the things you have at home, blankets and pillows so it is easy for you.
And there is one other suggestion. Make time to sit with the people you love and do nothing. Just be with them, fully present. No words, no planning, no need to make it anything more than being together. Presence is the best gift of the season.
There is so much focus on the New Year, yet completing this one well has great merit. It celebrates what has gone well, recognizes the efforts of you and the people in your life and restores your energy to be open to receiving what is ahead.
You are worth it dear one.