The Power of Savasana
There was stillness. A sense of time suspended, breath hovering, minds drifting. As I rest my gaze on each body sprawled out on the floor, I first check in with the jaw, to see if it is clenched or relaxed; I look at their shoulders, to see if they are hunched or soft; and then I watch the breath moving the chest and belly. I find it meditative to watch the soft expansion, like a wave rolling in to shore, the pause, then the softening and the breath leaving the body. Such a fluid, beautiful rhythm.
The power of Savasana, even after 30 years, still delights me. The ability to slide into a meditative state while laying on a thin mat on a hard floor - what a skill! What a lovely thing to be able to do - to feel the twitches settle, noises recede into the background, and watch thoughts drift across the mind without attachment. In this busy, disrupted, disjointed life we have, it is as important as food and water. Our mind, our body, our spirit - they too need to be unplugged regularly, so that when restarted they are fully functional and refreshed.
Ideally, we would get this recharge when we sleep, but for so many sleep has become another battleground, a thing that we are trying to get right. The point of Savasana is the not trying. We simply are, however we are, in that particular moment. There is a simpleness, an 'of courseness' about Savasana - of course we will feel better if we take a pause. So, how to build more of this into our day, without having to roll out our yoga mat?
Start when you wake up in the morning. Lay on your back, place both hands on your belly, and take a few slow, deep breaths into your palms. Feel your body moving under your palms, and be grateful for each breath.
Mornings are different for us all, depending on what stage of life we are in. When you get the opportunity, take your tea or coffee into the garden - look at the trees, the birds, the clouds, the sky - any nature that you can rest your eyes on. Then close your eyes, and listen - what can you hear? Nature can be surprisingly noisy! Even a couple of minutes outside is beneficial. Don't get hung up on the outside jobs that need doing :)
Hug - a partner, a child, a pet - and lean into each other. Connection is what we are here for, and it can be one of the first things we let go of when life gets busy. Hugging releases our snuggle hormone, Oxytocin, for a feel good boost.
As much as is possible, breath in and out through your nose, sending the breath wide and low. No need to hear it or force it - you want it to be soft. Keep your shoulders out of it - there should be minimal movement of the shoulders with each breath. Let your belly expand and contract with each breath. This is the simplest way to balance your nervous system.
Movement doesn't have to mean a dedicated exercise/yoga/pilates class. Simply raising your arms overhead and taking a bit of lean from side to side can feel so good - and any time you raise your arms overhead it is like a mini backbend, which is helpful to counter any hunching from sitting. Roll your shoulders, take a slow shrug and slow lower, rise up on your toes a few times - it all counts. When I use the microwave or coffee machine, I use that minute or so to do pushups at the kitchen sink, or take a downward dog at the wall and rock from heel to toes. It is quick and effective!
If you still have kids that you are driving around, chances are you find yourself sitting in your car, waiting waiting waiting for them. If you have the option to, it is good to get out and have a walk/stretch, but this isn't always possible. So, instead of mindless scrolling and making your mind even busier, recline your seat a little, place palms on belly and close your eyes. Give yourself a mini Savasana. Sure, you may worry that it looks weird, but really, who cares? Be an example for other busy mothers.
Most importantly, value your time here. Life is chaotic, beautiful, unpredictable, boring, energising, depleting, and a total mystery for us all. Yet, we all get out of bed every morning amidst the chaos - what a superpower! We only know what is happening in this moment - and this moment - and this moment. When you land in the present, suddenly it seems as if you have more and more moments. And there is more and more beauty and joy to be found in the conversations you have, the work you do, the connections you make.
Isn't that why we are here?