Savasana is where the magic happens

Rich Roll, ultra-marathoner and triathlete, recently wrote an article on Why Every Athlete Should Do Yoga for wellness site Mind Body Green. I’m not convinced that yoga is a cure-all or would provide everyone with an athletic edge, but I wholeheartedly agree with Rich’s position on the importance of savasana – the relaxation part at the close of class.

Rich writes that savasana allows us

to clean mental house, center focus and promote serenity by silencing the endless and seemingly unmanageable mental chatter that invades our daily experience and undermines the expression of our “best self” within.

Savasana gives students the power to settle in to their bodies, quiet their minds, and commit to a few moments of deliberate relaxation. It’s rare that we give our brains permission to fully relax. My usual “relaxation” is watching TV, reading, or surfing online, often while having a glass of wine. While these activities may feel calming and my body can rest, my brain is still engaged and often flitting between thoughts.

Savasana is quite different from relaxing in front of the TV. The mindful relaxation at the end of a yoga practice is focused on allowing the mind to go blank – thinking of nothing and disengaging with any thoughts. It truly enables the brain and body to relax and students often slip into a deep meditative state.

Join me at Bound Lotus Meditation & Yoga Centre tonight at 6:30pm for yin yoga and an extra-long savasana with a guided relaxation – known as yoga nidra. Guiding students through yoga nidra helps me tap into my own meditative state – and I’m lucky enough to lead an extra-long savasana during the last Friday night yin class of every month!

A quiet power

Statue in Memphis "shhh-ing"I had the pleasure of teaching a really incredible yin yoga class on Tuesday at Bound Lotus. The amazing part of it was getting out of the students’ way and enabling them to sink deeply into their own practice.

I was comfortable with all of the students and knew that they would be okay with minimal guidance. Other than getting them into the poses, marking the halfway point of the hold, and signaling the transition to the next pose, I did my best to stay quiet.

There was an awesome power in that quiet.

It was a deep practice and I felt a profound change in the energy of the studio as the students sank into each long-held pose and turned their focus inwards. I’m so honoured to have led that class and I look forward to more quietly powerful classes.

Join me on Friday at 6:30pm for yin yoga – and a little slice of quiet – at Bound Lotus. It’s the last Friday class of the month, which means a short (35 minutes or so) asana (posture) practice followed by a long yoga nidra (guided relaxation). Who couldn’t use 40 minutes of savasana (deep relaxation)!

March rush

March has swept by in a blur. Thankfully, it’s been a pretty wonderful blur 🙂

Photo of Suzee & Paul Grilley from www.paulgrilley.com

I spent the last seven days in an amazing workshop on yoga anatomy at Semperviva Yoga on Granville Island with Paul & Suzee Grilley. Paul and Suzee have been mainstays in my yoga practice for years through their Yin Yoga DVD and it was incredible to meet them. They are fantastic presenters and the week-long workshop contained so many mind-blowing moments.

One of the huge highlights was a lovely sun-warmed practice yesterday afternoon where Suzee led us through the infant series. I’d done the infant series from their Yin Yoga DVD many times before, but, of course, it’s always better in person!

March has also been wonderful in terms of new opportunities with Vancouver Corporate Yoga and Body Harmony Yoga. I’ll be teaching a regular private class with Vancouver Corporate starting in April and will be taking on three (!) classes a week with Body Harmony. I’ve updated my schedule to show all the classes I’ll be teaching.

The Vancouver Corporate classes aren’t open to the public, so if you’re interested in bringing yoga into your workplace, contact Sunny to arrange sessions.

Given that the last Friday of the month is just a few days away, I’m starting to think about the long relaxation session I do in my 6:30pm yin yoga class at Bound Lotus on the last Friday of every month. If this rain keeps up, we might be visualizing sunshine stretching through our bodies during that yoga nidra!

Cozy, lazy yoga

The weather in Vancouver has again turned to the rainy coldness of February, which makes me want to do nothing but get cozy and be lazy. Thankfully, this kind of weather is perfect for the yin yoga class I’m teaching tonight.

The last Friday of each month, I do an extended savasana with a long yoga nidra (or guided relaxation) in my 6:30pm class at Bound Lotus. The class is a short set of yin yoga postures followed by 25 minute yoga nidra, where  I guide students through relaxing every part of their bodies and coming into deep relaxation. It’s a beautiful practice that really allows students to go inward and completely relax.

The weather tonight seems perfect for laying out on a couple of meditation cushions, cozying up under a blanket or two, and settling into a deep, conscious relaxation. Join me at 6:30pm at Bound Lotus, where we’ll indulge in some cozy, lazy yoga and create haven of warmth and relaxation!

Beyond a good night’s sleep

Laura in corpse pose for yoga nidra

One of my few positive memories of summer camp is of a counsellor quieting us down at night by doing a guided relaxation. I remember feeling peaceful and weightless; letting go of all my tensions and forgetting any stresses of the day. Given that I didn’t like summer camp much, the comfort and security of the guided relaxation was very welcome!

I had no idea that the counsellor instructing a cabin-full of girls to relax from their toes to their earlobes was actually doing a form of the ancient practice of yoga nidra – or yogic sleep. Yoga nidra isn’t really sleep as the intent is to stay conscious, but it is deeply relaxing. Making a choice to release tension from all of your muscles and surrender to gravity is powerful and profound.

It’s a different feeling from sleeping as every moment of yoga nidra is a conscious decision to relax rather than giving in to the unconsciousness of sleep. It can be even more restorative than a nap of the same duration and some studies show that half an hour of yoga nidra is equal to two hours of sleep.

Sometimes students do fall asleep in yoga nidra and that’s okay, too. I see being comfortable enough to drift off in a yoga class as a huge compliment for the teacher 🙂

I love the way I feel after doing yoga nidra – relaxed, refreshed, and calm. I also love leading yoga nidra and I end all of my yin classes with at least five minutes of guided relaxation to help settle students into savasana (the relaxation period at the end of class).

Join me at Bound Lotus tonight at 8:15pm for Yin Yoga and check my schedule to see when I’m teaching and join me for a class – including a yoga nidra-infused savasana!