| Amanda Thrasher |
When I lead and participate in yoga practice, I am reminded that “savasana” is one of the most challenging, yet beneficial poses. For those who are not familiar with yoga terminology, this is the final resting pose at the end of practice wherein one lies on her back, with arms and legs outstretched comfortably, and eyes closed. Savasana can benefit both mind and body by reducing stress and anxiety, lowering blood pressure, and repairing tissues and cells. Instructors often prompt participants to relax completely in this posture, to surrender to the present moment, and to let go of racing thoughts, to-do lists, and judgments. Regardless of such prompts, occasionally a participant will ask me: “What exactly am I supposed to do in savasana?”
When I ponder the habits of my own daily life outside of yoga practice, it becomes clear to me why savasana may be so challenging for many of us. There are more than enough tasks to occupy my daily life; endless activities to pursue, tasks to accomplish, and needs of others to meet. Good quality rest and rejuvenation often take a backseat to my ceaseless focus on productivity and efficiency.
In prioritizing external productivity and efficiency, I am more apt to be rewarded with external admiration. It follows that I also tend to admire others for their busyness. Brené Brown, author and researcher of shame and vulnerability, astutely assesses such a way of relating as an epidemic that is rampant in our society. She highlights our society’s elevation of exhaustion and busyness as a symbol of status and worthiness (1). When I choose to give power to such an epidemic, those who can “do it all” by juggling work, parenting, social activism, family and spiritual community, etc., become my role models of a life well lived. Yet, oftentimes, those who strive to “do it all” are weary, hoping for an escape from societal pressures that keep them from truly thriving.
I am aware that the ability to “be” assumes the privilege of time and choice, which not all of us possess. For those of us who experience such privilege, I encourage us to consider the importance of rest in our lives. I know that when rest is regularly a part of my life, I am more capable of higher quality work and experience more joy, contentment, and meaningful interactions with others. When it is not a priority in my life, I become spiritually and emotionally malnourished.
I wonder what would happen if we rejected the idea of an elevation of exhaustion as a status symbol and instead embraced the importance of rest in our own lives and the lives of others. What if, instead of revering the person who “does it all”, we began to revere the person with a consistent practice of rest in her life? What if we slowly began to welcome a culture of savasana - of rest and rejuvenation?
Do you have a practice of rest in your life? If not, what might one look like? How might you go about developing it? Maintaining it? Whose support would you need? And, how can you support others in their practice, your communities in moving toward a culture of savasana? Be still and listen. Into what next step are you being stirred to move?
(1) Key concept from Brené Brown’s book: The Gifts of Imperfection