Because muscles have memory too… and it’s so damn comfy!
There’s an Australian comedian, Hannah Gadsby who speaks of comedy as a simple formula – create tension, break tension, in other words build discomfort, then make them laugh.
In a yoga class and in every asana, there is a target area or group of muscles that are being stressed, whether that be contraction to strengthen or a lengthening of the muscles to gain flexibility. In the context of Yin yoga, it would be the fascia between and around the muscles of the target area that are placed under stress.
Our emotions and memories are stored throughout the body, in our muscles and organs. After repetitive actions, unconscious reactions begin to take place. For instance, the memories retained from child birth or when training for a sport. So, like a rebound in Yin Yoga, it is important that we release the muscles of all tension, allow time for them to reset and allow this memory to settle into the body, to be recorded for next time.
When Hannah’s formula is applied to yoga asana, the creation of tension could be replaced with stressing the muscles and the breaking of tension or laughter could become relaxation or savasana. In the context of our daily lives perhaps tension would equal anger and the release of this would be through love.
Throughout Hannah’s show Nanette, she questions whether she should quit comedy and speaks of both tension and laughter being completely contagious states. It is not the personal responsibility of the comedian to relieve you of your tensions, nor is it the yoga teachers. The onus comes back to each individual and their personal choice to turn their attention inwards and create space to spread laughter, relaxation, and love.
There’s another rabbit hole to go through when you consider the translation of Savasana in English – ‘Corps pose’… Many spiritual teachers feel this is a time to come to terms with the inevitable. I prefer not to refer to this final pose in its English term as we can become quite vulnerable during our yoga practice, and this is a concept that could easily trigger many for whatever reason. Perhaps, we could instead see this final pose as a time to let go of our ego, of mental preconceptions, our body type, gender, colour, race or religion and tune into our true selves, knowing that we are all simply star dust inside a body. Eckhart Tolle states that ‘death is the stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to die before you die and find that there is no death.’ ... Food for thought...
To those of you who need to finish a practice early, (because, let’s face it – fitting your life around yoga isn’t always the easiest task!) It is important that we come back to Hannah’s formula. Perhaps you skip your shoulder stand and allow your body to debrief in savasana before rushing out into the world and the busyness of your day.
Why Savasana? Because it is the single most challenging, yet important asana.
This moment of stillness is where the strengthening of the mind and body really occurs.
By Katie Pietsch, Peaches Yoga.
Gadsby, H. (2018). Nanette.
Tolle, E. (2004). The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. Hachette. Sydney.
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