As there is “food-porn” – the proclivity to share food pictures on social media platforms – so there is “yoga-porn” – the visual presentation across media of people doing challenging yoga postures that has recently become viral. Because I hardly saw anyone sharing an image while doing Shavasana, I decided to talk to you about it.
There is a moment, a very important one, that many yogis miss out. In fact, I would say this is one of the most important parts of the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga practise. Shavasana or Savasana literally means the “position of the corpse”. Sava is the word used in Sanskrit for “dead body”. Others refer to this position as Mritasana “death posture”. Indeed, a very apt name. According to B. K. S. Iyengar “After completing the practice of asananas always lie down in Savasana for at least ten to fifteen minutes, as this will remove fatigue” (Light on Yoga, p. 59).
There is a debate whether this is an asana (a pose) at all. There are two trends in the yoga literature on the subject: whilst for some Shavasana is a pose to all effects, for others this is not to be considered as asana. Despite the disagreements and the differences in schools of thought about Shavasana, there is an agreement about taking a rest at the end of the yoga practice. In fact, the final step of a yoga daily practice is relaxation. The end of the journey. It is the moment of full relaxation. After the practice you lie down on the mat, eyes closed, legs and arms spread, and palms up completely relax. It is time to surrender and letting go. You lie down on the floor and just relax. There is no need to hold your breath any longer, keep your dristi in focus or holding your bandas. I like to describe this pose with an image. For me is like a tree that is being chopped down. That tree now lies on the ground with all its weight. The tree has lost any resistance and is abandoning itself on the ground. Heavy, in all its sense of gravity.
I appreciate these precious little moments. When I close my eyes, I see a clear starry sky that has no beginning and no end. I would stay there in contemplation. Still the breath, surrender and melt on the ground.
But there is more to it. The silence and quite is quickly juxtaposed to a symphony of sounds and noises that starts to fill the room. It is nothing disturbing though. It is only the sign that the world is waking up again and is kicking in. It is only a background noise. I enjoy it as if it was the perfect soundtrack of a film just finished while the credits are slowing running on the screen. I relax even more. I keep still. Those who yawn, those who stand up, those who remain seated for a moment before getting up, those that, instead, runs quickly away. Those who dress, those who clean the mat with precise and decisive gestures. Pff, pff. The sound of the spray touching the yoga mats with drops of water. The first suffused words hit the air. All these noises slowly rise and fill in the room. They are all little personal stories. I stand there, I remain still, in peace. I listen to this blind symphony that smells of movement and that saturates the space. It feels good to be there. I stay still. Listening. Like an observer that hears the voices and sounds overlapping each other like in a palimpsest, layer after layer. I, then, open my eyes. I realize that everyone has already left the room and I think to myself: this was the most important moment.