I’ve been practicing yoga for over 16 years now and through practicing all this time, I’ve realized that I function pretty much the same way throughout my physical practice (on the mat) as I do in my life off the mat, especially under pressure, dealing with stress, ups and downs - I react very similarly. The resemblance of yoga and life is uncanny, in fact my two favorite asanas are incredibly vital to both and I’d love to share with you: Balasana and Shavasana the beginning and the end.
Child's Pose (Balasana) to Begin
The name of this asana comes from the Sanskrit words bala meaning "child" - It’s no mistake this pose similar to the beginning stages of life (in the embryo), it has endless nurturing and calming benefits. Childs pose calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue, it encourages and normalizes steady strong breathing and can help in rejuvenating the entire body in just a few breaths. This makes it the perfect pose to start at or rest in at any point throughout a yoga practice; taking a break doesn’t mean you are giving up! I strongly encourage coming down to this pose when needed, it’s so important to do what feels right for you and your body in your practice!
I love to begin my practice in the pose with my knees super wide apart and toes together, arms reaching straight out in front. I focus on engaging my core centre while I gently stretch my back, hips, thighs and ankles and really connect to my breath. This pose helps me ground and prepare myself for whatever type of practice (restorative or power) I’m about to endure.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana) to Calm
The name of this asana comes from the Sanskrit word shava meaning “corpse” - It’s the ending last and final most important pose in the yoga practice. It’s interesting that this is how life ends as well-- Except in this pose you’ll wake up feeling rested, replenished and revitalized. Shavasana is at the end of the yoga session to absorb the benefits of the practice, by relaxing the mind and reducing any stress or tension created or withheld in the body (from the practice or the real world).
This pose is done exactly how it sounds, set your body by laying flat on your back, legs splayed out wider than hips distance, arms splayed open comfortably to the sky, head neck and shoulders relaxed, while the entire body melts into the floor. It’s advised to stay in this resting position for at least 5-15 minutes to completely rejuvenate the central nervous system. I love soaking in my practice like a warm bath it’s about the only time in the day I get a chance to halt my thoughts and really allow my body to be consciously calm, one of the many reason why I particularly love these poses!
Both balasana and shavasana can be used intermittently throughout the practice, as well as life - We all need to take rest, recalibrate the mind, body and soul perhaps more often than we do. The yoga practice is a friendly reminder to do so. The juicy poses are similar to life, they all boil down to us and what we make of them. It's your choice, will you coast through or will you choose to grow, by exploring boundaries and learning through experimentation? You know in your heart it's ok to take a step back to restore.