In almost every class you come to, you’ll find I start the body in corpse pose. Occasionally I’ll go to another rest pose, but this one is a superior starting point in my head for many reasons.
At the simplest, we’re beginning at the end. Savasana is our destination, so starting here is like checking in to see how it feels. Have we already arrived? Normally when I start here, I feel relief at lying down, putting away my day. Very quickly I begin to notice the parts of my body that want to wiggle and move, the areas that feel fatigued and tight. All of these sensations I notice begin to give me an idea of what I need to tend to physically in my body in my asana practice.
The fatigue and tightness is there because I’ve been going about my day. We’re not sadhus, practicing our yoga 24/7. We have modern lives. Lives where we drive from point A to point B, where we attend meetings, communicate via phones and computers, where we’re constantly curling our body in or lurching forward to the next thing. So when you arrive at the mat, instead of sitting and letting the body assume a familiar position where it brings with it all of its muscle memory, lay back, noticing what will unfurl, what releases. I often say release all of the tensions of your day here. Let them all go. If they all drop, amazing! If not, make note.
As you lay back and release all of the tension, something else important happens. Letting the body rest and open up lets fresh blood and fluids rush back into areas that have been compressed. As you unfurl, you feel the pressure come off of the stomach, intestines. As the back and shoulders rest you feel the heart open just a bit, and the hips and legs softening. Softening the body and the muscles allows you to start your physical practice with muscles that aren’t tight, tired, and full of stagnant blood. If you start there, and add tension via your movement, you’re just adding more tension to the muscle and overworking it. It’s not getting stronger, it’s just becoming even more fatigued.
So allow yourself 2 minutes. 3 minutes. 5 minutes to begin your practice from the most optimal starting point. 5 minutes to drop everything from your day, whether your day just started, or whether you are at the end of it. If you need props to help your body release, then make sure you have them.
Check out my savasana setups video for a variety of suggestions on how to support your body depending on areas of sensitivity.