Okay, that might have been a HEAVY subject line/title, but did it catch you off guard?
One of the benefits of SHAVASANA, the pose you do at the end of yoga for relaxation, is about letting down your guard, letting in and letting go. There are a myriad of other benefits to corpse pose, so many in fact that as part of your OCTOBER SLOW DOWN plan, I’m going to invite you to TRY RESTING for 10-15 minutes everyday.
YES! I said everyday. (sleeping doesn’t count)
Before we get into why this is so important, let’s have a little yoga philosophy lesson.
SHAVA in Sanskrit means CORPSE (remember, ASANA means pose). This is the pose of the corpse or death. One of the goals in yoga is to merge back with our BIG Self. Day-to-day, we live with our LITTLE self. The self of our ego and our sense of separateness. Our little self has to do with all the ways we identify ourselves. For example:
I AM A
MOTHER, SISTER, WOMAN, YOGA TEACHER, DAUGHTER, AUNT, FRIEND ETC.
GET THE IDEA?
In yoga we want to let go of these attachments or identities, if even for a short period of time, so as to just BE.
After raising our energy and connecting to ourself during our yoga practice, the pose at the end helps us to dissolve a sense of who we are or a piece of our ego. In Sanskrit, our ego is called our Ahamkara.
IN A SENSE IT IS A MINI-DEATH.
Now back to why resting in shavasana is so important. In addition to this “mini-death”, the time at the end of class also does the following:
- Helps us to enter a state of deep relaxation.
- Helps to relax the diaphragm so we can breathe more deeply and fully.
- After practice, our blood vessels are expanded and when we relax nutrients and oxygen continue to feed all the systems of our body.
- Our interoception (our ability to identify internal body/mind sensations) is enhanced.
- Practicing rest changes your brain neurons to find rest more easily the next time. (Neuroplasticity)
- During practice we relase endorphins and euphoriants as well as Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA). GABA is a neurotransmitter inhibitor which slows down or inhibits all the information moving through our motor neurons. The stronger the inhibitory signals are, the easier it is to relax. When you come into shavasana, these chemicals flood your nervous system.
- Helps build resiliency. When you are able to relax your body benefits and learns to relax. You can take this tool with you into challenging situations by remembering what it feels like.
- Deactivates your sympathetic (flight or fight) nervous systems and allows your parasympathetic (rest & digest) nervous system to take over.
- Helps to let go of the go-go-go and get-stuff-done mentality.
- Stories, memories and tension can be stored in the body. Yoga can shake things up and relaxation can help them be released.
Okay, I can go on and on about the benefits but until you practice it yourself, you’ll never know.
HERE’S THE CHALLENGE –
PRACTICE 10-15 MINUTES OF RELAXATION EVERYDAY FOR A WEEK.
START TODAY AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS.
LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES
Next week we’ll take this one step further and look at YOGA NIDRA or YOGIC SLEEP for even greater rest and SLOWING DOWN.