Yoga Teachers, Are We Doing Our Students Harm by NOT Teaching Savasana?
I’ve noticed a trend in some yoga classes where students are being led at a furious pace through different asana or postures, for 55 minutes or longer, and then Savasana is only offered for a minute and a half or two minutes. I’ve also been guilty of losing track of time while teaching a class, and only having a few minutes to wind down and lead savasana.
As yoga teachers, if we don’t offer a longer savasana at the end of class, I feel this can be detrimental to the student’s overall wellbeing. It is my opinion that savasana is the most difficult pose in a yoga class because it requires the student to be still with their thoughts. Lying with sensation, thought or emotion that has risen during the practice is difficult if we do not know how to navigate during this time of contemplation.
In a more vigorous yoga practice, energy is being moved, unblocked and stirred up. If you do not take the time to allow it to surface and flow out, it can have a negative impact. There is no time for integration, or for these feelings to move through the body and mind and release. What better place to have this happen but in the sacred space of your yoga
class? Many times I see students running for the door when Savasana is mentioned, and yes, that is their decision, but when savasana is barely being offered if at all, I feel this does more harm than good.
Savasana is a time to reflect, cultivate and integrate all you have practiced. And really, that is how the asana came about. It was a way to prepare the body for meditation. If we’re not offering our students a sufficient Savasana, we’re really shortchanging them. We’re revving them up, but not giving them time to process.
Savasana can also be a hard thing to teach, especially for a newer teacher because there is some uncertainty as to what to do once you get the students to lie down. Do you talk throughout the entire savasana? Or can you allow some quiet and space for students to be in the present moment with their own thoughts? For teachers, it’s about being comfortable with that silence, and not feeling the need to fill up every moment of the class with sound.
Sometimes classes are full of speech and instruction, but then no time for quiet, space, or reflection. Yoga means balance. Balancing the Yang, fire, instuction, with Yin, cooling, reflection. Yoga, as with life, is all about balance. Balancing that steadiness with introspection. Savasana gives you an opportunity to gain peace of mind and bring both sides toward wholeness.
For teachers, Savasana is a great opportunity to reflect and integrate as well. Softening your gaze, and reflecting on the love you have for your students and the class is a great way to get over the fear of being silent throughout savasana. Some other things you can do is to focus on your breath and the rhythm it takes on, silently send out peace and joy to your students, or with a soft gaze, scan the room and make sure no one is having profound difficulty. Otherwise, Savasana is a time for your own inner peace and quietude.
Newer students may need some cues, such as relaxing different parts of the body; however, there should still be a moment of silence. We are bombarded all day long with external stimulation. Savasana is the one time in a yoga class where all external stimulation ceases. It is a very powerful practice to go within and be silent. This is where the real healing and transformation occur.
For teachers, I think the fear may be in having a lot of silence in class. Either we fear the student will be bored, or wonder what to do, or that they may become restless. And some students may be restless in Savasana. It’s not an easy practice. But it is a practice just as asana and meditation. If you don’t offer Savasana at the end of your class, then students will never experience the peace, content and joy that yoga brings.
My recommendation is to offer at least 5 minutes of Savasana at the end of every class you teach. Some classes, I offer a full 10 minutes of pure, quiet Savasana.
As yoga teachers, we are all about giving to our students, then most often times we do not take enough rest and renourishment for ourselves. If your cup, so to speak, keeps spilling over because you are giving too much but not receiving any self-care in return, Savasana is a really good time to refill your cup.
Savasana is so needed in our society where we are constantly on the go and bombarded by constant external distraction. Savasana is that time, both for you and your students, to restore, refresh and rejuvenate.
If you’re seeking more information on how to offer Savasana in your classes, email me at TaraLavalYoga@gmail.com
I offer two monthly classes in rest and relaxation, with extended Savasana. See below for more details:
Monthly Yoga Nidra - Every Third Sunday of the Month
Bi-monthly Tea and Restorative Yoga - First Friday of the Month