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Drawing Inside and Quieting: Roger Cole on Savasana, Part 2 (Rerun)

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge

Drawing Inside and Quieting: Roger Cole on Savasana, Part 2 (Rerun)

Drawing Inside by Melina Meza

Here is the second excerpt from the interview that Leslie Howard did in 2008 with yoga teacher Roger Cole. In this excerpt he talks about his own practice of Savasana, compares seated meditation with Savasana, and gives his recommendations for setting up and practicing the pose. 
Leslie: Have you had any special experiences with the pose, either in your own practice or with students?  
Roger: Not really. There isn’t one that stands out for me. Restorative asana experiences—Ssavasana being one of them—many times I have had resting poses or Savasana in which I just really feel like this is exactly what I need and what everyone needs—everyone needs to do this sometime. Take the time when you would not ordinarily be sleeping, and lie down and just stop. It is different from seated meditation. Seated mediastion is wonderful in its own way. In Savasana and the other more reclining poses, the brain just shuts off. In the seated pose you are very, very alert. Seated meditation is really good for this deep realization in which you you see the connection between things. In Savasana it is more like you are drawing inside and quieting, and you are observing the quietness. There is a lot less activity in Savasana.  
Leslie: Do you always practice Savasana in your own practice?
Roger: Ideally, yes but in reality no.   
Leslie: When you take the time to do it, what is your preferred method?
Roger: First of all, I am very big on restorative poses and sometimes I will substitute a restorative pose for Savasana. Now ideally Savasana is the last pose because it is the most neutral; no part of the body is elevated over the other, nothing is particularly stretching, especially if you support the arms and stuff. So if I had the ideal Savasana, I would be almost completely neutral, with maybe a little elbow flexion so I could stay longer, maybe padding under the head not to lift the head but to make it not hurt. I personally don’t need padding under the knees but padding under the heels so that the heels don’t hurt. So I make it comfortable. 
The other thing that a lot of people don’t realize about Savasana and other restorative poses is that temperature is extremely important. You get cold. And if you get cold it is just not a relaxing experience. So I am very conscious of the room temperature, and if you need to be covered with a blanket in Savasana and other restorative poses, you need to cover the hands and feet. Don’t just cover the trunk and have the hands and feet sticking out. So in my practice of Savasana ideally it would be the last pose even if I do a lot of other restorative poses. But in reality there is a time limit so if I end up staying in another pose longer well than Savasana gets shortened. Same thing when I am teaching; ideally I would like to put it at the end of every class but sometimes I just run out of time.   
Leslie: Are there any special circumstances or conditions for which you think Savasana is particularly valuable? 
Roger: One of things is that Savasana is the quickest, most generic pose. When it comes time to relax, just lie down. You can do it on a bed, which is actually very important. Bedrooms are set up with a bed so you can lie on them. Of course they have blankets and such, but the availability of having a space to do it is extremely important. If you just lie down on a dirty floor you might not relax, or if its cold or too light or in a traffic area, the bed takes care of all that. Of course, it is a little soft but its there and its available. 
In a yoga class situation, with students that have never done yoga you don’t what to do some strange thing with them in Savasana, maybe with support under the knees because that is very non threatening and it’s very intuitive. So, it’s got a lot of benefit. It doesn’t have a lot of the problems of being uncomfortable or they can’t hold it or their knees hurt or whatever. But if you are going to put people in it a long time, you are going to have to prop them up. So I think it would be particularly valuable for quick relaxation. Also, some kind of relaxation is valuable, but it doesn’t always have to be specifically Savasana. 
You asked me if there were times Savasana should be avoided. So with some kinds of back pain, such as when people have a facet joint injury, it’s too much back bend, but you can modify the pose. Generally it is a pretty easy pose to do. Also if the nose is congested, prop them up and it can be used to drain the nose. 
What about emotionally? Emotionally if someone has had a trauma, like after an earthquake or something like that or a terrorist attack, people are often afraid to close their eyes, to lie there with their eyes closed is very frightening. Also I have had a couple of deaf students and they don’t like to close their eyes because once they close their eyes in Savasana, they don’t know what is going on in the world, although they will do it. They can hear enough through their hearing aid to know when there is shuffling around, but it’s a little tricky. 
So in those instances Savasana with eyes open is a good pose and if their eyes close, apparently they have gotten over it. 
Drawing Inside and Quieting: Roger Cole on Savasana, Part 2 (Rerun)
Leslie Howard
 is an Oakland-based yoga teacher, specializing in all things pelvic. She leads workshops and trainings nationally and internationally, and is the director of the 200 hour Deep Yoga program at Piedmont Yoga. With a state certification in massage, she also practices cranial sacral therapy. To learn more about Leslie, visit: 

Drawing Inside and Quieting: Roger Cole on Savasana, Part 2 (Rerun)
Roger Cole, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized, certified Iyengar yoga teacher trained  at the Iyengar Yoga Institutes in San Francisco and Pune, India. He is also an accomplished scientist educated at Stanford University and the University of California, with specialties in the science of relaxation, sleep, and circadian rhythms. Roger has taught yoga since 1975. He has authored dozens of articles on yoga teaching, practice, biology and therapeutics, including Yoga Journal's Anatomy Column, Master Class Column and Ask Our Expert Column, Yoga International's Asana Solutions Column, and special feature articles on the prevention of yoga injuries, the physiology of stress, relief from back pain, and the science of keeping your balance. He has trained thousands of yoga teachers and taught yoga as a healing art to physicians, physical therapists, medical students and patients. He offers weekly classes in Del Mar, California, and conducts workshops throughout the U.S. and abroad. His specialties include yoga teacher training, yoga anatomy, yoga physiology, restorative yoga, and promotion of better sleep. See for more information.
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