“When the mind is still, the beauty of the Self is seen reflected in it.”
~BKS Iyengar
Quietness. Stillness. Letting everything else fall away, until there is nothing left but conscious awareness of the present moment. This is our practice in savasana (corpse pose), the pose practiced at the end of every class. It is the most essential pose.
When I first came to yoga, I disliked savasana immensely. I will admit that I found it to be a waste of time. The ability to relax and let go was completely lost on me. I remember becoming grumpy with having to lie still because I wanted to be doing something. So I would lay there and organize “to do” lists in my head. It took me a rather long time of coming to yoga classes before I understood this pose. But when I did, it changed everything.
The ability to rest and settle into stillness is critical for our well being. Constant sensory stimulation and demands of daily life are overwhelming to our nervous system and mind. Without moments of quiet and conscious awareness, it is difficult for the body to repair. Our nervous system cannot shift out of flight/fight mode and the mind remains spinning in thought. Day after day, we lose the ability to manage stress and to see clearly the world around us.
Periodically, I have the wonderful opportunity to guest teach yoga at Esalen Institute in Big Sur and stay to enjoy the day. Esalen is an educational center that is devoted to the exploration of the human potential and personal and social transformation. They offer workshops that cover a wide variety of subjects that include visual arts, bodywork and massage, pyschology, spirituality workshops, health, and integral practices. The institute is situated on the most beautiful landscaping of Big Sur, once home to the Native American tribe known as the Essalen, and is blessed with natural hot springs.
Each and every time I go, I am incredibly grateful for my time there. As a mother, wife, yoga teacher, and business owner, my plate is frequently very full. And while I strive for daily moments of intentional quiet pauses, my visits at Esalen are dedicated to quiet time. Here, I am able to slow everything down. From eating, to walking, to soaking in healing waters. There is no other moment but the one being fully experienced. It is a profound reset.
The truth is, while it is helpful to be in a place of nature and void of technology, we can experience this anywhere. It is a matter of choosing to stop what we are doing, and pause in awareness. To feel the body, notice the breath, and to consciously relax.
It is such a gift and one that only you can give to yourself……I hope that you do.
Rest well. Practice savasana.
With love and light,
Laura McKinnon
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