A Winter Corpse

The winter months seem to move slower than the rest of the year, which I am always willing to emulate.  The darkness, I thought, was an invitation to contemplate in the solitude of my home.  And there is a lot of true in that.  My thoughts about winter shifted recently, when my friend Lafy invited me to a walk in the park with her (look at her, how can you resist?)  This new experience showed me that there is so much more active energy in winter than what I thought.  There in the woods, walking with friends, there was a clam, peaceful, almost inanimate scene, but the energy around us was inquisitive, playful, and inviting. This shift in perspectives is similar to what we may experience during Savasana (a yoga pose meaning corpse pose).  In the traditional pose, the body lays face up on the floor motionless, very much like a corpse or your drunk roommate in college.  By staying still for some time and keeping the mind quiet, one relaxes in a very conscious way.  According to B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the world’s foremost yoga teachers, this is a very difficult pose to master.  You can see why; even when we ask the body to stay still, the mind will move in all directions.  Sometimes, when I want to practice Savasana for a longer period of time (10-15 minutes), I try a more grounding version as the one I describe below.  This isn’t a replacement for the classical pose; one must think of this version as hiking in a winter wonderland with a great friend; something you may not want to do everyday, but you sure enjoy it every time.

Things you’ll need

comfortable clothing

~15 to 20 minutes total

a wall, everyone needs a good yoga wall at home and any wall would do!

a mat or rug to lie down

3 to 4  blankets (such as Mexican blankets or large bath towels)

a bolster (if you don’t have one read Create Your Bolster Substitute)

What to do

Roll up a blanket, burrito-style, and place it alongside a wall.  Lie down with the soles of your feet against the blanket.  Place an additional rolled blanket or bolster under your knees.  These actions will passively engage you calve muscles and allow the thighbones to move deeper into the hip socket (i.e., for Anusara folks: Loops activate!).  This helps release tension in the iliopsoas and allows the pelvis to rest more heavily on the ground.  Place a folded blanket or sofa pillow over your belly to release tension and weigh the hips down even more.  Rest your arms by your side, palm facing up; keep the arm closer to your torso for this variation.  Place a folded blanket under the head for extra support.  Your chin should be perpendicular to the floor and your throat should feel open and tension free - think CPR!  With each inhalation summon a feeling of gratitude and wonder, and with each exhalation allow the earth to fully hold each part of your body.  After some time you will feel grounded, this may take longer for some of us, and a bit uncomfortable at the beginning, so keep bringing awareness to the breath.  Be patient and you will feel the hand of Mother Nature holding you in space, while you relax.

Posted on January 14, 2011 and filed under Anusara, Yoga, yoga poses.