Monday’s yoga practice was an eventful one. It marked my first Social Yoga class, taught by the lovely Anita. It was a serendipitous surprise way to end my Monday and help me set an intention for the week. When my friend realized she wouldn’t be able to make it to class, she asked if I would be interested in going in her place. Thrilled at the chance to finally get into a Social Yoga class, it was an easy yes. And so through a last minute opening, I found myself transitioning out of my workday not on a couch passively watching something on Netflix but present in my body as I flowed through a yoga practice, conscious of my breath, my sore muscles, and aware of how my body feels today here and now.
I felt particularly present in class today. Something that I love about yoga is what a true practice it really is—you get so much more out of class when you remain acutely present moment to moment than when you let your mind wander and take your focus off of your breathing and how it feels to be in your body.
A class can either be simply a great chance to stretch or sweat or build strength, or it can be a truly transcendent experience as your mind and body move as one, a beautiful synchronized dance between conscious presence of the mind and an exploration of your physical limits as you stretch yourself and explore your physical boundaries.
When it came time for savasana, I was feeling great. I noticed near the end of the practice when getting into pigeon pose that I was feeling particularly open, in both a physical and mental sense of the word. I was relaxed and comfortable, I was warm and limber, I was present and focused. While in my savasana, true thoughts escaped me. It’s a difficult experience to try and put into words, but it’s pure bliss. It made me realize what I love about savasana at the end of a truly conscious, present practice is that the moment of rest allows my mind and body to operate independently of one another.
At the end of an hour where mind and body are consistently engaged in partnership, thinking and feeling, moving and stillness, breathe and movement, you relax onto the ground and it feels as if your body falls asleep—which is entirely different from truly falling asleep as you do at the end of a long day. You physical relax down into the ground, acutely aware of the heavy pull of gravity and allowing that to pull you more closely into the ground.
But here comes the strange, difficult-to-describe bliss of savanna—
it feels as if your Body is your Mind’s child, and Mind has just held Body as it sang Body a bedtime lullaby. As Body drifts off to a blissful world of much deserved sleep, Mind is awake. Mind gently places Body into bed, slowly extricating itself so as to not interrupt Body’s peaceful slumber; however instead of leaving the room, Mind has a moment, gazing lovingly down at Body peacefully sleeping, so vulnerable and beautiful in slumber. Mind takes in every curve, every line, every small nook and cranny of Body, recognizing the beauty in their connection as well as Body’s individual identity as separate from Mind.
While experiencing a particularly good savasana, this is an approximation of how I’m feeling. It’s not quite an out of body experience, but I feel my mind is alert and exploring while by body is quite heavy with rest. I feel like my mind is active, but that it couldn’t tell the body to move even if it wanted to. Instead of that being a scary feeling (which it seems it would be, seeing it written like that), it feels almost like a mental reset, a reminder of the separation between the two systems which work together to provide us with the experience of being a living, breathing, thinking person. When you begin to "wake" from savasana, it is as if you are starting over, and are re-teaching your mind to control your body’s motor functions.
To those who haven’t experienced what I’m talking about yet, it will come. Yoga is a practice, and the gifts which it gives you are equal to the care and presence you give to your practice. It is a reciprocal action/reaction and what I find truly awe-inspiring is that there is no ceiling. Yoga is a practice and there is always more to learn.