by Erica Turck, Cambodia 300 hour yoga teacher training student
Looking back now at the broken woman who was lying on my mat, I had no clue about the impact that the positive energy radiating from my fellow trainees and teachers would have on me that night. Everything was about to change. If I close my eyes, I can still bring myself back there.
I was at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali, a little over a year ago, and I was finishing up the first week of 200 hour yoga teacher training with Zuna Yoga. 30 beautiful souls were gathered to dive deep into the study of Yoga for 21 days. The sun had just set. There was an unexplainable stillness that came about during the hours of sunrise and sunset in Bali. The warm evening air filled the second floor studio room that had no walls; which let trees, vines, geckos, monkeys, and all other wild creatures roam freely with us. The lights were dimmed to a golden glow and I became one with the sounds of the cicadas.
We ended our practice with a few deep hip openers.
Then, for the first time, I was led into a blissful state of rest... I had found Savasana.
Savasana (corpse pose) is the final asana of any yoga class. It is meant to be a pose of deep stillness; its level of relaxation is directly correlated with the quality of practice preceding it. Savasana can be broken down into two Sanskrit words. The first being “Sava,” meaning “corpse”, and the second “asana,” meaning “pose.” The pose is entered into by gently lying on your back, arms resting on either side of the body with palms facing up towards the sky, feet hip width apart allowing their outer edges to connect with the mat and earth below. One last scan of the body should be taken; if there are any areas of discomfort this is when you attend to them. Then comes the hard part of the pose; now we must close our eyes, still the mind, and while mimicking a corpse we connect with our breath for the next 10 minutes or so. Thoughts may enter the mind during Savasana, but it is our yogic duty to not cling to those thoughts. We must acknowledge them and then gently release them back into the universe, while then returning to the natural tide of our breath. The best way Savasana has been described to me is as a sort of conscious death, washing away the stains of samskaras (mental and emotional patterns), and allowing you a chance at rebirth. Each time we step on our mats we are being offered a fresh start and time to evolve. Savasana solidifies these new beginnings after each practice.
I could never find savasana before my teacher training, because until then I was not ready to let go of all the mental impurities. I was not ready to be born anew.
|A Zuna Yoga teacher trainee leading the class into savasana.|
The sound of our teacher's voice guiding me to this place of peace still warms my soul as I tell this story today. My mind was awake, but I no longer felt the weight of my body. I wanted to open my eyes out of sheer panic. Who was I without this physical body? This is where I would normally pull myself back to my senses. I had a fear of being undefined and of losing control. Until then I was never ready to let go of the illusion that the physical world and my memories had placed on my mind. Funny how yoga shows us that when we let go of trying to control everything, that’s when we actually become our most powerful selves. We become powerful by connecting with our true nature, our purusha (soul, individual self).
If we only allow it, yoga brings us to our own unique light, where we are unbreakable. It is here that we come back to who we were before the world told us who to be. By surrendering to our practice we allow the burdens of the past, future worries, and the physical world to fade away. At first it was like a deep free fall into the great unknown, the universe expanded and the world felt all too large. I found comfort in the guidance of my teacher, I felt safe knowing that my brothers and sisters on the same path to self-realization surrounded me.
As my first Savasana came to an end, our minds were gently pulled back to the yoga studio. Instructed to keep our eyes closed, we made our way to a meditative seated position. I’m not sure how long it went on for, but we then chanted the sound of Om over and over again. After a while the word began to lose meaning, it only became a feeling. I noticed the changing vibrations throughout my body. These vibrations seeped into every one of my metaphorical internal scars.
In these moments we are being healed.
It was about half way through when I felt the most intense emotion rise up. I fought myself to remain seated; I wanted to run from the room. Tears came pouring from my eyes as I continued to recite the mantra of Om. I suddenly knew that I no longer needed to analyze every past suffering in hopes to eliminate their grasp on me. It wasn’t a cry of sadness or happiness. These feelings didn’t require any explanation. All I know is that they came from a place of gratitude.
Once we awaken the soul, it is there that we are safe. We are free.
The chanting then came to a halt. As our teacher led us back from our journey I tried to silence my sobbing. The room was quiet, but I couldn’t help the gasps from trying to catch my breath. The more I tried to control my crying, the harder it came out. So I just let it all go. As the lights turned on I gazed around me and saw that I was not the only one moved by this experience. I was immediately showered with the hugs, kisses, and positive words from my fellow trainees. Here in this moment my vulnerability was not only accepted, but respected. In the quiet moments of Savasana we can remove the shields of armor we wear because we are petrified to show weakness. In this space there is no need for its protection any longer.
As I left the studio I walked down the spiraling stairs from the top floor, said goodbye to the koi fish in the pond, and hopped on the back of Eddie's motorcycle with Denise. Three of us yogis crammed on one bike. I should have been holding on for dear life, but I let my arms and legs flail all about as we drove down the busy streets of Ubud. With a huge smile on my face I gazed up, opening my heart toward the sky. I took a deep breath in and then exhaled. I knew in that very moment that everything was just how it was supposed to be.
Born anew, I was the creator of my destiny.
May every savasana connect us with our inner light and may we all be blessed with new beginnings in those still moments on our mats.