power of shivaBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

Shiva is one of the quintessential Hindu Gods. In fact, the very creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe is said to be embodied by his divine play. This dance, or Tandava, as it is known in Hinduism, replicates the rhythm and pace of our own breath. With each breath, we take in the essence of life and with each exhale, we release that life force energy. Over and over again throughout the course of our lives, we create, sustain and dissolve the life force energy within us; the same energy that Shiva embodies during his ceaseless divine dance . 

In a Yoga class, the same pulsation of creation, sustenance and dissolution can be replicated through an artful sequencing of Yoga asanas.. Frequently, the krama or sequencing of Yoga asanas is geared towards a pinnacle pose during the practice. This is akin to climbing a mountain; there is so much preparation necessary for scaling a high peak. In order to ensure a successful ascent of the peak, we must prepare our both our bodies and minds for the journey ahead. In the same way, sequencing a series of Yoga asanas to ensure a safe, enjoyable and successful Yoga class is an art in and of itself. 

Shavasana is considered to be the final resting pose in any Yoga krama. It mirrors the dissolution phase of the divine dance of Shiva. This posture is often overlooked or rushed through at the end of a class. Many of us may view this posture as pleasurable, but extraneous. It is nice if we have the time to practice Shavanasana, we think, but unnecessary to the core of the practice. However, resting in Shavasana at the end of your Yoga practice helps to deeply integrate the beneficial changes to the body and mind that have been catalyzed by the practice. 

It can be a bit tricky to slow down enough to let ourselves truly rest and dissolve in Shavasana. In our society, being on the go and productive at all times is highly regarded. Taking the time to rest and restore our vital life force energy is often seen as a luxury and can even be construed by some people as laziness. However, traditionally Shavasana is viewed as the most important pose in the entire Yoga class. As the body cools down, the optimal physical alignment we have created through our practice becomes set in the body.

*Shavasana or Corpse Pose

If we rush to finish our Yoga practice without giving ample time to resting in Shavasana, the same physical holding patterns and tension will likely come rushing back into our bodies, undoing much of the expansiveness that we just created through our practice. According to exercise physiologists, it takes our muscles and ligaments approximately 8 minutes to truly cool down and reset into optimal alignment. By setting aside ten minutes and the end of our practice to truly rest in Shavasana, our bodies and minds will be able to experience the dissolution phase of Shiva’s dance before proceeding on to the next phase of our day or evening. 

Additionally, by making the practice of Corpse Pose special through the use of aromatherapy eye pillows, Yoga bolsters, blankets and dressing in comfortable, warm layers, we are honoring the beneficial changes we have made in our bodies and minds through our practice of Yoga. When you are ready to practice Corpse Pose, gather any props that you are using and lie back on your Yoga mat. At this time , you may wish to place a Yoga bolster or rolled blanket under your knees for back support, 

You may also wish to place an eye pillow over your eyes to further enhance your sense of dissolution and to invite your senses to dwell in the internal landscape of your own conscious awareness. A word of advice, don’t forget to put your socks on. There is nothing quite as distracting to the sense of dissolution than practicing Shavasana with ice cold feet! Rest in Shavasana for at least ten minutes. When you have completed your practice of Corpse Pose, remove the eye pillow and the Yoga bolster, if you are using these props, and roll over to your right side and rest for several breaths before gently pushing yourself up to an easy seated position.

© Copyright 2014 – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division 

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