Elizabeth Lesser from the Omega Institute:
“….Everyone one of us longs for something more than just getting up and battling our way through life. We have a sense that there is something more, something more meaningful in our journey. This longing is spirituality. Religions formed to try to answer these questions, who am I, what am I here for, what does this all mean.”
We all have that inner tug which draws us to different belief systems that help us on our journey. Those belief systems, whether it’s Christianity or Buddhism or Atheism, are our individual choices to make.
In a yoga class, we aren’t actively participating in a religious practice. A goal in class may be to unify mind, body and spirit. There are many ways we do this. First by focusing on the breath or a mantra to help quite the mind from all of the mind chatter. Second, we bring ourselves into our bodies by focusing on anatomical alignment or stretching and strengthening areas that are holding a lot of physical and psychological tension. Third, we come to yoga because something in our spirit takes us there. We want something different. We want to feel different. And if you practice on the previous two things, you will be different at the end of a class. This is where your journey comes in. It’s your unique choice and expression. It’s your spiritual choice.
Often times, students come in and are afraid or refuse to go into savasana because it might contradict their religion. There are a few things to consider. One, the physiological benefits of a savasana for your body is what is most important. By lying down, closing the eyes and simply bringing awareness to the breath, a person is slowing down the flight-or-fight response in the body with their breath. They are also taking away all of the information that the central nervous system tries to process through the eyes. These are putting the body into a relaxed state, which reduces stress, relieves tension and may lower blood pressure. Secondly, taking time to put oneself into a relaxed state, whether it’s a nap or it’s a savasana, is a great demonstration of self-care. It’s been proven that people who take naps are more effective after taking a nap than those who don’t. By taking time out for yourself, you become more effective at caring for others. You can call savasana meditation or you can call it focused relaxation, it’s your choice with those few moments on the floor.