So you really want to Savasana?

Stay on the mat just a little longer. By Paul Calarco

Savasana (Corpse Pose), pronounced sha-vah-san-ah, is typically the final posture of a yoga session. The purpose of this article is to enlighten you on both the asana and potentially what you are in for when it comes to your experience on your yogic journey. I was prompted to write on the topic as I reflected on a poem that I wrote a decade ago that was accompanied by a picture of myself. The thought immediate thought was: that dude had no idea what he was in for, which is quite analogous to my journey into yoga.

During the course of my immersive seven-year practice, I have learned this asana is so much more than simply lying on your back, with your feet slightly apart, toes turned out and palms facing up. I guess for some, it can be that simple, but it is dependent on simply how you engage your life generally. Here we get into the notion of being in tune with your mind, body and spirit and if you are not making those connections yet, if you continue your practice you will.

Savasana will typically be used to close your session and there is a purpose; as there is for every asana. Corpse pose will bring your body back to a state of homeostasis by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, releasing any remaining muscle tension, and allowing the mind and body to integrate as your blood is circulating to your fully activated systems and your heart rate begins to slow down. The posture is not just a place to rest but a place to rest in peace. Are you allowing your body to rest, relax and take in the benefits of your yoga practice? I must admit that until a year ago, I had taken too many Savasana for granted. Many of you can relate to the reasons:

  • I am done with the class
  • I have things to do
  • Shopping list
  • I have to clean my mat
  • I have to shower
  • I don’t need this, class is over!

In Western culture, we are so task-oriented and typically over-scheduled in our lives. Yoga is another item on our busy schedule and we need to truly allow ample time to complete our practice. In 2021, my perspective on life shifted when I was extremely ill for days and though I tested negative for COVID-19, the symptomology was very similar. After days of extreme fever, I awoke in the middle of the night, my chest heavy, laboured breathing and I felt as though my breaths were numbered. It was at that moment I began to ask myself if I was ready.

I was in a state of complete helplessness and vulnerability, and there was no one but myself. At that moment, I was thankful for one of the many gifts of my yogic practice: the ability to handle with ease even the most challenging of life’s situations. Was I afraid to let go? Was I ready to die? Many related strings of questions began to flurry in these moments and I did not know that all I knew was being put to the test. Even though I feel I am prepared to part from this miraculously beautiful world, what savasana now consistently reminds me, and what I remind my students, is that every day we can make time, every day we can take time for rebirth and emerge from our mat renewed. I was reminded there is so much more that I want to experience in the world.

So think before rushing off, nama-stay on your mat a little longer and receive both the physiological and psychic benefits of your yoga. Realise that we do not only live once, but we die once and we get the chance to live every day. You have to simultaneously plan on dying tomorrow and living forever. Can you fully surrender? Are you ready to cut yourself down to size? Can you be fully in the moment? Are you honouring your presence? Have you considered your gifts and are you sharing them with the world?

Grateful is an understatement for my journey as I continue to delve deeper into my practice and my life. Perhaps none of this applies to your experience and what you actually need is rest. So take the time when it is offered to simply relax and allow your body to recharge. As I end this article, I would like to share my second musing, as I looked at that decade-old picture of myself mentioned earlier. If I could tell that younger me something, what would I tell him? After dozens of lifetimes and cycles of death and rebirth on the mat, I would tell him nothing. I am enjoying the journey that includes both the joy and suffering of living life. I consider myself blessed beyond my own imagination on and off the mat, and every day thankful that my yogic practice serves to weather the ups and downs of living. Namaste, Namaskar and Om Shanti. The light in me honours the light in you, I respect you deeply and I wish you peace.

Paul Calarco

Dr. Paul E Calarco, Jr. is at heart a seeker of truth, truthfully a seeker of knowledge. He feels that this lifetime is the opportunity to pursue passion and love. He says, “I have found both and it is my responsibility to share the journey.”