Week 326: Book Ends
What I've recently learned before, but maybe didn't necessarily think much about until now, is that a yoga class includes book ends. Book ends? Kind of like in a workout, there is a warm-up to start and a cool-down to finish. Although those are included in a yoga class, there are also two additional pieces.
1. Centering. Bringing class participants to the present and readying them for practice.
2. Savasana. Final pose. Time for the practice to integrate.
My assignment this week was to write one of each. It was somewhat tricky to write out. At first, I asked my dear Siri to help me. I spoke to her and asked her to scribe the words out for me. That worked okay. But the real work was sitting in front of my words and tweaking them to sound like the best version of what I want to say.
Here is a look at what I wrote:
Come to a seated position. Relax your shoulders take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. Let the body relax and forget the rest of your day. Leave it at the door. There's no need to think about the past or the future. Think about the present moment. Settle to yourself on your mat.
Slowly lower yourself down on your back and allow the mat to support your bodyweight. Take a deep breath in and let it slowly trickle out of your mouth. Take another deep breath in and slowly let it come out of your nose. Feel the difference in your breath when coming out of your mouth and when coming out of your nose.
Slowly take another deep breath in and exhale what feels the most comfortable to you.
As you relax into the mat, feel the weight of your body and all the contact points on the mat. Feel where your heels meet the mat. Feel for the back of the knees and where they meet the mat. Feel where your hips and low back meet the mat. Feel where the shoulders and back meet the mat. And as you reach the top of your body, feel where your head meets the mat.
Slowly take another deep breath in and exhale your body deep into the mat.
As you become increasingly still lying on your mat, start to think about a mantra or a purpose to your practice today. It might be simply “relax” or “calm” or “present”. You may make it more specific to you as “I am relaxed”, “I am calm”, or “I am present”. Create a mantra for yourself to remind yourself throughout your entire practice why you came to the mat today. This mantra will guide your practice and take you through a practice that is needed not only for the physical body but for the heart and the soul.
Slowly take another deep breath in and exhale as you say your mantra to yourself.
***few moments of silence***
Begin to connect back to the physical space and your place in the room. Begin with slow movements and when you are ready slowly lift your feet to plant them on your mat. Knees bent, facing towards the ceiling. As you feel you can bring more movement to your body, slowly lift your knees to your chest and place your hands gently on the legs for a gentle hug.
Take yourself to the mat in our final pose, corpse pose or savasana.
Lie flat on your back. Position your arms comfortably away from your body. Allow the palms of your hands to face up towards the ceiling. The legs are also comfortably apart, with the feet falling off the edges of the mat. The hips are externally rotating or opening up from the midline of the body.
Let the floor carry your weight and allow the body to sink into the mat. Find the support of the mat.
The corpse pose is also a pose that we need to work on. It’s not simply laying on our mat…and potentially falling asleep. Being present. Finding the best position to lay your body so that you relax. It may take some additional movements to find the best position for you today. You may need the support of a bolster under your bent knees, you may like a sand bag placed across your pelvis or you may simply find lying on your side in the fetal position most comfortable.
Once you have settle, take this time to let your practice integrate into your body.
Consider slowing your breath and on each inhale, recite the mantra or the saying of purpose you set for yourself at the beginning of practice.
On the next set of breath, inhale a sense of gratitude to your practice today. Be glad that you arrived at your mat to honour yourself and give yourself time to take care of you.
Continue to find the support of the mat. Let the floor carry your weight and allow the body to sink into the mat.
***few moments of silence***
Slowly bring yourself back into this room. Bringing gentle movement to the body will help take you back into your day. I encourage you to tuck away your mantra from class and your gratitude to be with you for the rest of your day.
Slowly start to move the fingers and toes.
You may find gentle rolling of the head side to side helpful.
And as you find the movements become easier, slowly bent one knee at a time and bring the feet flat onto the mat. Slowly bring the knees to the chest and gently hold with your hands. Feel free to rock the body side to side and/or provide a gentle circular motion to all corners of your pelvis.
As you feel ready, allow the body to come to a side lying position on the right hand side. Take two to three breaths in this position.
When you are ready, slowly support the body up into a seated position of your choice.
There is no rush. Continue to breathe.
As a closing, I’d like to thank you for practicing with me today. My hope is that you found what nourishes you in today’s practice.
What is really tricky with writing it out is that there is no sense of timing. A large part of saying the words is the tone and speed of how the words are said. So reading it rather than hearing it can make it lose its intended effect.
Regardless, it was a crucial step to practice when becoming a yoga teacher. It keeps me very well aware of the words I choose and how I string them together. With the ultimate goal in providing the best classes possible.
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Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.