Drawing In

I tried this as an experiment recently: Sivasana at the beginning and end of class.  I’ve decided that it’s an advanced practice.

Doesn’t sound tough does it? It’s like nap time at the beginning. But have you watched three year olds who just came in from recess try to lay down? It’s like that pop-up gopher game where you’re meant to pop the puppets back down with a soft mallet. Monkey mind most active.

What a tremendous testament to our practice. Sivasana is nearly torturous for many at the beginning, and almost always luscious at the end. What’s changed? The embodied mind.

If you want to try this practice of playing dead both before and after, I suggest that you give yourself some structure for the beginning. Begin by noting sensation in your extremities. Really pay attention and feel it. Then pay attention to your sensation in your core (if you can find any at this stage, you’re particularly in touch that day). Then with each breath draw the sensations from your arms and legs and neck into your core. Now, I’m not suggesting you draw in pleasure or pain, just the unnamable raw sensation, unjudged. Some might call it energy. But it’s very concrete when you locate it within your body: the sense you have of your own body. Use your breath to draw it in.

Finally, draw all your attention to sensation down to your low abdomen and feel it expand and contract with each breath. By relaxing and contracting the low belly when breathing you are mechanically & chemically signalling your “slow down” nervous system to wake up. That’s right, wake up to slow down. There are all kinds of opposites that come together on the mat.

2 comments
  1. dharmayoga said:

    Interesting. My own teacher does this in her beginner class, first or second class. I think it’s getting students to notice exactly what you pointed out… the difference practice makes to the interior existence.

    I’m finding the same sensation with my current series of experiments with samasthiti… that pose I tend to take the most for granted. Explored properly, it’s a very interesting lesson in body mechanics and the process of interiorization. I’m opening with it for a few breath, running through a series of standing postures to really limber the back/hip region and then taking the posture for an extended period of time. Counterpostures in a more supine orientation to give a change of direction and ending back with samasthithi for transition to a walking meditation.

    It’s VERY interesting having the three parts to compare… beginning, middle after the back/hips are warmed, and as a closing posture of awareness and vigilance.

    Namaste,

    Kate

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