A common agreement I find amongst yogis is that Savasana is the most important posture, and most difficult to master. What could be so difficult about it you ask? For those of you who are unaware of what Savasana is, it is the pose where you simply lie on your back, seemingly lifeless. It is often referred to as deadman’s pose, and while it may seem to be simple, it is actually quite challenging.
What is so hard about lying on your back? I’m glad you asked! Savasana is an active posture, yet our bodies must lie on the ground completely relaxed. While we do this, the idea is to clear the mind of any thoughts that may arise. Now, picture this: you’re lying on your back and you’re trying to relax, but you still need to feel energy in all parts of the body, as it is an active posture. The physical body wants to go into sleep mode, and therefore the mind begins to wander. One must consciously keep the body awake while remaining still in space, which is actually quite challenging. Once that task is conquered, one must consciously clear the mind of thought, and focus on breath…6 counts in (minimum), 7 counts out (minimum).
Breath is a powerful thing. The breath, and concentration on the breath combined have the power to clear the mind. Breath has the power to bring you into what’s important, which is the present moment. However, I find it to be untrue that the breath must be even in inhale and exhale. In my opinion the breath needs to be composed of an elongated exhale, and I’ll tell you why.
The body needs air. Obviously without air the body will become damaged, and inevitable deceased over time. Think about how often we breath. All the time right? How many times a day do we fill the lungs to their fullest capacity? How often do we exhale completely? Unfortunately, while we breath involuntarily all day every day, we don’t use our lungs to their fullest potential, consequently exacerbating the shrinking of the lungs that comes with old age.
Now I want you to think about your breath as a tangible item for a moment. Now think about your cell phone. Do you have an emotional attachment to your phone? Be honest. Have you ever dropped that precious phone of yours on a hard surface, or have you ever misplaced it? Did you freak out? Did your heart sink as your darling iPhone shattered against the floor? Did you go into panic mode when you misplaced it? I know this may seem a little over dramatic, but you get my point. People develop emotional attachments to things, and when we lose those things, or those things become damaged, we freak out. Freaking out causes your blood pressure to rise, and overtime if you stress out about your stuff too much, you may develop hypertension and even atherosclerosis, and for what? Because you dropped a thing?
Your breathing patterns are similar to the reaction you had when you dropped your phone. When the lungs are empty, even for a second, the body rapidly inhales, as if it was starved of breath for months. This is you freaking out about your phone hitting the ground. Once that inhale comes in, the body is satisfied, much like it is when you slake your thirst. This is you fixing your phone, or finding your misplaced phone. However, have you ever noticed that we don’t exhale with the same energy? This is because we generally have trouble letting go of the things that serve us, or seem to do so. Our minds love things, and they become confused with what is truly necessary, and what simply brings enjoyment because both seem to satisfy a need, but only one can satisfy the soul. Breath is satisfaction for the body. It is simple, it is pure, and it is necessary for life. However, the mind tells the body that because this breath is necessary we must take it with greed, and never let it go. Of course, we eventually exhale, but most of the time we fail to exhale completely, and we therefore keep a lot of stale air in our lungs. The stale air doesn’t serve a purpose, but we neglect to recognize its existence within us because our minds are so focused on taking as much fresh air as we can get; our bodies become selfish.
If we work to elongate the exhale, we release stale air, and make room for fresh air. This is a conscious effort, and requires the mind. If we exhale, and hold the exhale out for a few seconds, then very slowly begin to draw air in, it allows the body to appreciate the fresh air more than it would if the air was rapidly entering the lungs. This also teaches the mind to invite things in with consciousness, which ultimately helps you realize what you truly need. Breath is simple, yet it remarkably keeps the body alive, consequently teaching the mind the importance and the beauty of simplicity. You don’t need that fancy car, you don’t need that fancy phone, you don’t need the biggest house on planet earth. What you need is breath; conscious, controlled, powerful, healthful breath, because it can teach you valuable life lessons that you would otherwise neglect.