I have been very fortunate to train with and study under some of the biggest and most talented names in the industry but I never allow that to effect any class I take. I know regardless of how long someone has been teaching or the level of the class, I will always be able to get something out of what they have to offer. Because of that I go into every class as a blank slate to be filled and leave the judgement at the door. So this article is not written to make anyone feel badly. I merely wish to share my experience and reflection to hopefully elevate the experience our your classes.
Recently I had a chance to practice in another studio—and thoroughly was enjoying the class. Having worked us hard, I was pretty pumped for savasana and was all too ready to get myself comfortable for my post sweat session bliss. When the teacher cued us to lay down I started my normal body scan to release any tension and get fully relaxed.
Unfortunately I had barely settled in when the teacher began cuing to rise. WTF? I was so thrown by this and felt totally jipped. There was none of that glazed eye bliss from a great savasana and I still felt revved up from class.
Walking out it suddenly hit me. A bad savasana is like having a bad dessert after a five star meal.
Back in the day when I worked in fine dining to pay for school I remember conversing with the chef about arguably my favorite part of a meal, dessert. The restaurant was known for having stellar desserts and I was asking why ours in comparison to so many others were so much better.
“Simple,” he said. “Dessert is the last thing you eat, thus being the part of the meal you remember the most. A bad or unimpressive dessert negates the entire meal prior and leaves you with a lackluster memory. We want the experience to be incredible from the first to last bite.”
It got me thinking about how many meals I have had that were fabulous yet unimpressive when dessert came. It was something I never forgot especially when it came to my teachings.
To me, savasana was dessert. In my first teacher training in India we were extremely traditional with at minimum 20 minute savasanas. In my next, world renowned teachers expertly guided us to the depths and subtleties within our bodies for a delicious duration of time. The experiences I have had during these active relaxations were other worldly. Imagery, lights, calm like no other. Coming out of them I always felt so fully renewed and rested—I wanted to stay forever. It was the moment we worked to during our practice. Work hard, rest well.
Because of these influences I aimed to give my students the same. It wasn’t always easy with time constraints to give lengthy resting periods but I aimed for five minutes at minimum. I always remembered that that was the lasting finale. In a society and industry that increasingly puts emphasis on being faster and more challenging, it’s important to balance that energy with calm and centering otherwise you just cultivate more of what stresses people out and lose out on the power of being still.
As teachers I urge you to value savasana and the power it holds. Just like dessert, it’s the way to beautifully finish the experience. In 20 minutes the body experiences the equivalent of four hours of sleep. Imagine what a blissful 10 minute savasana could do for our over worked society and the appreciation we could cultivate for enjoying the moment.
So as you lead your students through amazing classes, take the time to create an amazing finish that won’t be forgotten. The effects will be evident on the mass of smiling faces and sparkling eyes leaving. More importantly we are letting it be known that it is ok to be still and do nothing.
As students and teachers think of your savasana as your dessert. The most heavenly, delicious, and satisfying dessert you’ve ever experienced, that leaves you wanting more.