At the end of each of my Yoga classes (both kids and adults), I invite my students to tune out the noise from the rest of the world, to pull the energy they’ve scattered to everyone else back to themselves, find a comfortable lying position, and just rest. This sacred time, usually only 8-10 minutes is called Savasana (translated from Sanskrit, “corpse pose”) and it is the most important part of a Yoga practice. After a good Yoga session, one with strengthening, stretching, breathing, and being fully aware and appreciative of our bodies, our physical body is ready to be still. And once the body is still, the mind gets to enjoy stillness as well.
Although it sounds easy enough to just kick back and take a break, our minds often have difficulty shutting down. There is always chatter going on in there – what is called the “monkey mind” – and it can be challenging to just settle. We often think we know what “silence” is. Even when it is quiet all around you, no noises or interruptions, that is not true silence. The silence of Savasana is a silence that comes from the inside – it doesn’t mean there isn’t noise around you, it means your mind isn’t creating the internal racket of to-do lists, song lyrics, grocery lists, worries, and so on. True silence means you are able to just be, mind quiet and body still.
This is a tough idea for adults to understand, and even tougher to do! Kids are the same. They have worries and wishes, multiplication tables, friend problems, and a long long list of other thoughts parading around their minds all the time, too. This is exactly why Savasana is so very important to learn. I have found that for all ages, using guided imagery to encourage all the noise to quiet down is most effective. The following is a basic script I use to help my students settle into a safe, quiet space (both externally on their mats and internally in their minds). I call it “Floating on a Cloud” and I begin when everyone has found their perfect Savasana resting posture (usually on their backs). In a slow, soothing voice, read the following, adding pauses and other descriptions that you feel would assist your students in settling into stillness:
“Concentrate on your breathing. Feel the cool air on the tip of your nose as you breathe in and follow that cool sensation behind your eyes, down your throat, and all the way into your belly. Now feel the warm on your upper lip as you breathe out. Each inhale makes your belly round, your tummy moving up. Each exhale your tummy moves down. Just feel your breath. In and out. Tummy up and down.
Now imagine that the Yoga mat you are resting on has become a perfectly fluffy white cloud. It cushions your body. It is so soft. It is a cloud made just for you. Can you feel how soft it is underneath you? Let you whole body sink into the white fluffy cloud.
Your legs let go of any wiggles as they relax and rest in the cloud. Your cloud just drifts across the calm sky. Let you neck and head relax and sink into your soft cloud pillow. Can you feel the warm breeze in your hair or on your face? Just rest on your cloud, drifting lazily in the sky. Softly breathing. There is nowhere else to be. You have nothing to do except feel your whole body sink into the soft, white cloud. Perfectly still. Perfectly safe. Peacefully resting.”
Allow the class to remain in silent Savasana for at least 5-8 minutes. When it is time to come out of meditation, gently ask them to bring their awareness back to their breathing. Feel the cool on the inhale and the warmth on the exhale, but remain still. As their breath grows, energy builds in their body and they can begin wiggling their fingers and toes, opening their jaw wide for a yawn, and then slowly adding any movements that just sound yummy. Pretend to be a bear waking up from a long hibernation! But, even as they begin moving, remind them that their clouds are always there waiting for them, and they can visit their clouds whenever they need to, even in line at the grocery store or in bed if they are having trouble sleeping. They just need to feel themselves soften into their cloud, notice their breathing, and float.