Doing what feels right

Sometimes staying in Savasana for the whole class is all you need. By Paula Hines

I was chatting with a friend recently who has begun to regularly attend a yoga class. She mentioned that during a class there was a man who lay down for the whole duration.

I asked if he was disrupting the class or simply lying down in Savasana. Apparently, it was the latter. He was lying down silently while the class continued around him.
Me: Did the teacher check on him?
Friend: Yes.
Me: And was he okay?
Friend: I think so, but it’s so rude – he was just lying there.

My friend thought he was being rude, but I think this man feeling comfortable enough to be in Savasana for the duration of the class was great. I’ve been the teacher in many a class when this has happened.

When you’re teaching an asana class, particularly if it includes some demonstration of the poses, it can at times seem like a game of ‘Simon Says’, particularly with newer students who assume that they’re supposed to be copying every single move the teacher makes.

This has led to some interesting and amusing ‘copycat’ moments when I’m walking around or sitting to instruct verbally, or even pausing to simply scratch my nose! What I offer and what I say is going to be guided by who is in the room and what I see, and it’s not possible for me to do that if I am actively demonstrating through every moment of the class.

In each asana class I offer, I make a point of inviting those present to do as much or as little as their bodies want to on that day, always practicing with kindness towards oneself. Usually, especially with regular students and more experienced practitioners, I witness them doing exactly that — I see them exercising that agency over their bodies.

Everyone is different, but for the most part I’ve observed over the years that the more someone has practiced (or if someone has come from another discipline that has helped them to cultivate body awareness), the more they’re able to sense what feels right for them, understanding that this can change from day to day. And 99.9% of the time this means doing less. When I see anyone in a yoga class doing what feels right for their bodies I feel so happy.

So, if you want to stay in Savasana throughout one of my classes you’re more than welcome!

The new book by Paula Hines, ‘Rest + Calm’ (Green Tree, Bloomsbury Publishing) is out now in paperback, audiobook and Kindle/eBook. For more information, plus yo ga classes, videos, workshops, and more visit her yoga website:

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