It was probably my first year as a yoga teacher, 10 years ago now, when I had a student in my class I so clearly recall would get up and leave as soon as it was time for Savasana. I’ve been trying to remember what I offered her in terms of advice but it escapes me now. Likely, I didn’t have much to offer. Yet I did empathize and understand why she left, unable to stay in this ‘corpse pose’ as it’s often called.
Ask the same of people when they are told to “just” sit still and meditate. Particularly if they’re experiencing anxiety, or high levels of stress and notice what happens.
Or telling a young child having a full-blown meltdown to “just” calm down.
The last thing anyone can do in these moments is calm down. There are likely to be many reasons for the state in which people find themselves and can’t calm themselves, but the ‘state’ is the important piece.
If someone is in a state of arousal, a natural nervous system response, telling them to do the opposite may not be helpful. It might add to the stress or leave them feeling ashamed about not being able to control their emotions or behavior. All this movement, powerful breathwork (sobbing), yelling, screaming, stomping of feet, tossing and turning the body in an attempt to express feelings and emotions going on inside (insert here: toddler meltdown).
There are some ways, practices or movements that enable calming down or a relaxation response. But it might be something just the opposite that’s needed to even begin this shift. Maybe what was needed, in this particular situation, is a mobilized response. We need both… to survive and engage in the wide variety of experience life is going to throw our way.
Recognizing the state is the first piece. Having some tools and options to choose from that might be helpful to you in the moment, could be a good thing to practice.
Today, I would have a few suggestions should this person turn up in my yoga class and find it a struggle being in corpse pose.
I’m kicking off a workshop in February all about SLEEP. Deep rest. How one might get to a place of settling in… for the night. Or for Savasana. Or if you’re having a hard time with routine, uncertainty, stress in these days you might find it helpful as well. I’d love for you to join in so stay tuned here, or you can sign up at yogatoolsforlife.com.