Ashtanga, vinyasa, yin, restorative. How wonderful that so many styles of asana are available to us to arrive at the ultimate goal of samadhi: perfect conscious bliss. Each style has a different effect on the body depending on the depth of breathing, the pace of the sequence, and the level of effort applied to the practice. One thing these classes have in common is savasana, or corpse pose. The purpose of this resting pose is to allow ourselves the quiet time to do some deep conscious relaxation and inner listening.
So, imagine you're moving along in class at near-maximum effort and then it hits you that you're exhausted and you'd love nothing more than to just lay down and sleep. The teacher instructs the class to lay down in savasana, and you are out like a light. Well, perfect bliss consciousness is not to be found there, because sleep is not a conscious state. Sleep and agitation are opposing states of mind, and are the opposite of yoga. As soon as you become un-aware of what you're doing, you are no longer doing yoga. Plus, snoring in class is distracting.
Let's back up a bit. You arrive at class prepared to apply appropriate effort, about 75% of your maximum effort in the postures, and appropriate attention to stay engaged in what you're doing. You are keenly attentive to your breathing, so you know how much effort you are really expending in the postures. When the teacher guides the class into savasana, you lay down comfortably and start to progressively relax your body. You pay close attention to the process of slowing down into complete relaxation until you feel very still and quiet, even in your mind. If you can get to the point where you are completely relaxed, awake, and clear in the mind, you just may have the ultimate yoga experience: samadhi!
Kristen Fewel, Yoga Educator, Reiki Master
Full Circle Yoga & Healing Arts