A Healing Blueprint
I accidentally discovered yoga at about two or three years of age. I had some kind of natural instinct to get into Corpse Pose or Savasana - laying down on my back, limbs stretched out, sinking into the ground like rain. It was a quiet cocoon where I felt free and connected. I enjoyed lying down in front of a doorway or window, ideally in a ray of sun or moonbeam. I would gaze into the soft light and watch the passage of shadows and illuminated particles. It felt like that was enough, simply being there.
B.K.S Iyengar describes Savasana as a shedding of skins, a gradual loosening of the architecture of self and body into something more open and formless – with each breath a layer of tension acquiesces into effortlessness and non-action. In his book, 'Light on Life', Iyengar says:
“Tension results from clutching tightly to life and in turn being held by myriad invisible threads that tie us to the known world, to our identity. Savasana uses techniques to cut those threads of tension and dissolve what we are not.”
Iyengar considers Savasana to be the most difficult pose in Yoga because of the honesty required to let go fully while remaining awake.
Lying down on the ground taught me the three most fundamental requirements for healing – rest, letting go, being present. Since childhood my daily life has been punctuated with deeply restorative periods of Savasana in order to connect with the unfiltered primal awareness of my body. It is in Savansana that my body reveals a deeper knowing which is not normally available to my conscious mind.
THE BODY UNCONSCIOUS
Wilhelm Reich, a pioneer of Western Psychotherapy, and the inspiration for future somatic therapies like Feldenkreis, Rolfing, Gestalt Therapy and the Alexander Technique, believed that the ‘unconscious’ was the body itself, not a repository function of the brain. This makes sense when you consider the fact that the body’s five physical senses process approximately 11 million bits of information per second, compared to less than 50 bits of information per second that is handled by the conscious mind. That is an enormous discrepancy which science has not yet been able to explain.
So where does all that information go? Our very flesh, blood, bone and nerve absorb this deluge of sensorial input, integrating it at a precognitive feeling level. Yoga refers to a layer of the mind called Manas that is woven together with the body through a sensing and responding awareness. It is the most elementary, primitive aspect of our consciousness that coordinates the sensory-motor system of the body. When we give the body an opportunity to unravel its web of habitual tension, Manas is that layer of pure feeling that inhabits the unconscious body.
In Savasana we are relaxing the control of the “I” Maker or ego and sinking into the soil of our senses, coming back down into the earth of the body. Since the physical body obeys the same laws that orchestrate all of life, awakening the mind in the body can guide us to where our own ‘nature’ is out of balance. Savasana heals and purifies us through basic contact with our most elemental level of experience. By simply lying down, breathing to feel the body and staying attentive, this passive pose can cultivate lifelong transformations by building a stable ground for emotional, psychological and physical balance. This is Savasana’s hidden purpose and power.