What do you do at the end of a yoga class? Do you sneak out of class the moment the lights go off? The closing pose, known as Savasana, or “corpse pose” in Sanskrit, locks in the benefits of the workout and prevents muscle soreness, says Freedom Yoga’s founder Elvina Cheong.
“The most important part of the yoga practice is savasana,” she adds. “After an hour of hard work, that’s when you absorb all the goodness of your practice. It is a mental and physical detox, where your body lets go of the lactic acid.”
Lactic acid accumulated during exercise is widely believed to cause muscle fatigue.
We see why lying down, wide awake and doing nothing can be a challenge, especially if you’re a Type A high-flyer who makes every waking moment count.
Take it from Cheong, a self-made lady boss who is not even 30. She picked up yoga seriously in 2015, after the practice helped her recover from a shoulder injury. A year later, she set up two yoga studios in Cecil Street and Holland Village.
“We live in a world of instant gratification. We are chasing work all the time. Your brain is working non-stop. It’s a bit counter-intuitive, to just lie there and be. We aren’t used to it. It’s not in our usual rhythm to take time out to breath and relax,” says Cheong, who was meeting Keyyes within 24 hours of touching down in Singapore, after a European holiday. The entrepreneur tells us she was working on emails through her trip.
Keeping the mind still can be harder than endless chaturangas (the yoga push-up), or a back-bend handstand.
She says: “It’s not just to lie there and fall asleep. The goal is to remain conscious and connected to your breath. An ideal savasana is rest, it’s the state in between being awake and sleep.”
Yoga instructor Cheong shares three quick pointers on how to set yourself up for a successful savasana.
Set yourself up for success from the start. Lie down, keep your feet map width apart, and hands 45 degrees away from the body. Palms facing upwards. Roll your shoulders back to achieve optimum relaxation.
Do a body scan. Be aware of the points of tension in the body, and let it go. We may unconsciously furrow our brows, or clench our jaws. Relax the tongue, let it hang without touching the roof of the mouth.
Every time your mind starts wondering, focus on your breathing. Breathing is the anchor of life. We all need to breathe. Focus on your breathing, but no controlled breathing. It should be as natural, normal breathing. Relax and enjoy the bliss of being with your breath.