Savasana – The Hidden Language

April 25, 2009 by Cierra Dahlquist
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Swami Radha speaks to us in an inspiring video on the practice of Savasana, and recent YDC and HYTT graduate Cierra Dahlquist responds by reflecting on her own experiences of death and relaxation.

Shavasana means corpse pose. In the last part of every hatha yoga class, we position our bodies in shavasana for what we call “end relaxation.” Letting go of survival-based cravings and urges, opening our hearts, and surrendering our will, we find ourselves resting in a space of clarity and non-attachment. We temporarily release our grasping at life, and experience the place of peace within ourselves that is beyond life and death.

In her book, Hatha Yoga: the Hidden Language, Swami Radha writes that in the corpse pose, relaxation can indeed change our concepts of death. For me, the reverse has also been true: my own experience of a close brush with death has expanded my understanding of relaxation and what it means in my life. Hovering on the edge of consciousness in a hospital bed last year, I found myself in a place of peace and inner knowing. It seemed that I had no energy left to maintain my grasping at life, and without this, all that remained was peace.

[podcast format=”video”]http://www.yasodhara.org/podcast/radha_hidden_language_savasana.mp4[/podcast]
We strive to offer the best quality video to our community, if you would like to donate to the Yasodhara Ashram Society in Canadian funds click here for American donations click here

I saw the life I had lived spread out before me, and in it a story of grasping. Pushing and scheming to manipulate my circumstances, I had created my life with skill, talent, and effectiveness. Yet I had never relaxed enough to know of this underlying peace in which I now felt myself so lovingly held. This peace had been there all along, but I had never allowed myself to be supported by it. Pushing from my own self-will, I had never known that I could relax into harmony with a Will greater than my own, or that learning to do so would be my reason for continuing to live my new life when I began to heal.

Though the insights I gained during my illness inform me as I open to my new life, they are also elusive, and the teachings help me to stay focused. As Swami Radha cautions in the video, my “willingness to have the throat lotus much less rigid in its will” rather than opening to “God’s Will” can “flip like a coin.” I sometimes find myself moving back to a place of willful pushing, where life becomes a test in which I must prove myself. Just as Swami Radha says, I need to keep a focus to help me stay with my peace.

The Yoga Development Course and the Hatha Yoga Teacher Training have given me the tools I need to explore how I will accomplish this. I’m just beginning to learn to act from this place of peace, to set aside my self-will and to listen for God’s Will. It has become very important for me to maintain relaxation through the practices so that I can “tune in.” For me, it was the unintended relaxation of near-death that first opened me to experiencing the inner place of peace, but it is a place I can go to intentionally during shavasana. With the support of Hatha Yoga and the Divine Light Invocation, I am learning to recognize this underlying peace and to understand it as the Light. I’m learning to allow myself to be supported by it, to be relaxed in it, and to listen to it. I’m starting to take small steps to following what I hear in the Light, and to relinquishing some of the actions that are motivated by self-will. As these steps show me again and again that my self-will is not what sustains me, my process is blossoming into the beginning of faith for me. It is safe to relax.

Cierra relaxes in the Divine Mother RoomThere is a lot I’m not sure about: life after death, the role of karma, my ability to live up to my ideals, how much I can really let go of self-will… I have a lot of questions, but I no longer see them as problems that I need to “solve” in order to relax. Instead, they are thoughts for me to relax with. In the video, Swami Radha reminds us of our power of choice: we can choose to use our power in life positively “to bless ourselves and others.” For me, the positive choice is recognizing the Light, allowing myself to be supported by it, listening to it, and moving towards faith. For me, it starts with relaxation.



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  1. Thank you, Swami Radha and Cierra for timely and relevant reflections that draw me in and help me “become very light.” Cierra, your experience are deeply touching; your words inspire me to keep on going – relaxed, positive, listening.

    Comment by Terri — April 28, 2009 @ 8:24 pm

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