Teachers undervalue Shavasana. Why?
By Tara Fitzgibbon
If you haven’t been taught the value of a good, deep, restful Shavasana how can you know?
I have been practicing yoga since 1997. That was a long time ago and what sealed the ‘yoga deal’ for me, was my first Shavasana. I was given permission to lay down and rest. To do absolutely nothing but rest for a full 15 minutes at the end of class. It was so easy and blissful. ( I was 22 years old )
As time has passed and our lives have become busier and busier I have noticed the Shavasana’s in Australia’s yoga classes have become shorter, and shorter. Even to the point where some teachers don’t teach it at all! This has only happened to me twice in my 22 years of being a student.
It is the only pose that is practiced consistently in every yoga class. Some styles teach it at the beginning and end of class, some styles after strenuous postures, but all classes teach this pose at the end. And we need this deep rest now more than ever before. Deep rest is so important that I even know a woman who has trademarked the words deep rest. So I would like to make it my mission to teach people the value of a longer and more quiet Shavasana.
Here are some tips:
- Give your students permission to rest.
- Try to do a minimum of 8 minutes in a one hour class, 12 -15 minutes in a longer class. The simple act of lying down allows your back to rest, to unload tension and tightness.
- Explain the benefits:
- May relieve physical, mental and emotional tension.
- Ends fatigue.
- Calms the mind.
- Soothes the nervous system.
- Rejuvenates the body and spirit.
- Brings inner focus without effort.
- Restores a feeling of peace and joy.
Learn a guided Shavasana. That is, guide your students into deeper states of being, by getting them to become aware of their body parts and their normal breath. This is similar to the rotation of consciousness in Yoga Nidra. Do not take your students on a visualisation in a Shavasana guided awareness ie: a journey to a beach or outer space. There is not enough time and this is not a Yoga Nidra meditation. Keep it simple and get them to notice their feet, legs, hands, arms, torso, neck head etc.. Keep it simple.
Here is a link to a guided Shavasana practice I ask my yin yoga teachers to listen to and learn from.
Music is lovely. But a good Shavasana should always have silence at the end. A minimum of 2 minutes pure and simple silence. That is an absolute minimum. If you are teaching a 12-15 minute Shavasana 5 minutes silence, 7 minutes silence, 8 minutes, 10 minutes. Don’t be afraid of silence. It has taken me long time to learn this. I wish I was more comfortable with silence early on as a teacher.
If you play music, it must be soft and have a calming vibration. Do not play songs where the beat or tone gets higher and higher as a song goes on. Do not play these songs, they will take all the benefits of the deep resting state.
I have been attending a yin class lately and the teacher has played the music so loud and the songs are not Shavasana appropriate although some of my favourite for listening to in the car. In one class, I just lay there, eyes open hoping Shavasana would end soon. It was that bad.
Choose songs that are preferably not english words. Choose one song only for Shavasana. It could be a 3 minute song ie: Window, by The Album Leaf
Hold the space. Don’t walk out or check your phone messages. Stay present and observe your own state of mind and awareness.
Give your students permission to rest. A teacher who understands this will give their students a better class. For it is Shavasana aka corpse pose where we will all end up one day fully rested. Guaranteed.
Tara (pronounced ‘Terra’) has been teaching yoga since the year 2000 and training yoga teachers since 2011. Born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada she moved to Byron Bay, Australia in 1997. Where she attended her first yoga class and fell in love with yoga during Shavasana.
Tara’s unique approach to teaching, soothing voice and compassionate manner reflect her deep knowledge of yoga. She has taught hundreds of yogi’s to become better yoga teachers. Working at the Byron Yoga Centre for five years and since 2014 running her own Yin Yoga teacher trainings all around Australia.
Tara is the head yoga teacher at Elements of Byron Resort teaching 4 mornings a week and teaching yin yoga to aspiring teachers.
Her next Yin Yoga TT is at Bikram Yoga Byron Bay 2x wknds Nov 30- Dec 2nd & Dec 6-8th