On Hatha Yoga & Floating
An observation formulated during yoga last week about the similarities between hatha yoga and floating. In hatha, there is a recurring use of the shavasana posture, or “corpse pose”. In most yoga, shavasana is saved till the end of the practice. It’s actually the entire purpose of doing yoga. The goals of yoga are many, but its prime purpose is to rid the body of stiffness and pain so you may meditate for long periods without being too distracted by physical discomforts. This fact has been largely lost in the westernized version of yoga, which has extracted all the physical exercise aspects of yoga and largely dumped all the mental exercise aspects. Shavasana, in which you lie completely still, like a corpse, is often spoken of by yoga instructors as an almost optional thing that you may or may not do at the end of your practice, entirely missing the point of yoga in the first place (or at least placating our insane busyness).
In hatha, though, you keep coming back to shavasana during the course of the practice as a way of relaxing from all the exertion of the other, more active asanas (postures). It’s a miniature death and rebirth cycle between postures, allowing you a brief recovery from the stress of the practice. You work hard, you unwind, you “die”, you are reborn, and you come back, ready for the next posture.
Floating is like this, but playing out in a cycle much closer to 75 years than the typical 75 minute practice of hatha yoga. You work hard, you exert, you push, you stress, and then … you float. You die a little. You unwind, relax, float like a corpse, let it ALL go. And then … you come back. You are reborn, prepared for the next round of exertion and effort and life.
Hatha yoga would be pretty grueling without shavasana interspersed throughout.
As is life, without stopping on a regular basis to fully unwind and reflect, to die a little, and be reborn.
On a related note, the hatha yoga class I was at was at the sweet new yoga studio on the west side, True Self Yoga. Amazing space, great instructors, really good people who own and run the center, Vajra and Christina. If you’d like to check them out, we have some free class cards at our front desk, or you can check them out at www.TrueSelf.yoga.