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Embracing Life's Final Pose: A Reflection on Savasana

Note: The post below references my experiences with and thoughts on death and dying. I realize these are topics we each must approach in our own way and in our own time. If you are ready to dive in with me read on.

 

In the realm of yoga, Savasana, translated as "Corpse Pose," holds a profound significance that extends far beyond its physical posture. Yet, in the yoga community, it's not uncommon to hear teachers refer to it as "final relaxation." Why the discrepancy? Perhaps it's because the true depth of Savasana's symbolism is often overlooked and even avoided.

 

A Cultural Taboo: Confronting Death

 

The reluctance to acknowledge death is deeply ingrained in our culture. It's a topic that is considered taboo, something we skirt around rather than confront head-on. But the truth remains: death is the only certainty in life. It's this very certainty that underscores the preciousness of life itself.

 

Honoring Lost Loved Ones

Anyone who has had the privilege of living to middle age has likely experienced the death of a dear one. For some, a closer relationship with death occurs much earlier.


Kelly


So strong is our aversion to death that when my parents lost their first child – a daughter named Kelly - to a staph infection at only a few weeks old, my father required that everything of hers be disposed of. As a result, there are very few reminders of Kelly’s short life.


Kelly was so deeply loved that merely remembering that she had once existed was too painful for my Dad.


It was easier to pretend she had never been.


His response isn’t unique. It is symptomatic of a culture that doesn’t want Corpse Pose either.


When my father died in 2019 my first thoughts were of his reunion with Kelly. I don’t know what form that reunion took exactly, but I believe – to the depths of my soul – that it happened.


Mike


I moved to Freehold, New Jersey in June of 2009. Two months later, in August, my brother Mike died in an accident. At 37 years old, Mike was only a year younger than me. I had just seen him and the rest of my family in Massachusetts for our annual 4th of July gathering.


The author's brother and daughter in 2002
My brother, Mike, with my daughter in 2002

Mike’s death was nothing short of shocking; a hot cattle prod of a reminder that life isn’t promised.

We are not to assume a single moment beyond this one.

 

The Beauty Amidst the Pain


My brother’s death has forever changed the way I live. I hug people a little longer. I make sure people know I love them. I tell people that they are appreciated.


I would be remiss if I failed to say that along with the pain, there was beauty at the time of Mike’s death.


There was beauty in the way we as a family and our extended community came together to hold one another. There was beauty in the things we learned about Mike and the way he lived that we may not have otherwise known; stories of the way he embraced a new girlfriend’s young son, of reaching out to help family, friends, neighbors, and strangers alike.


A New Relationship with Aging


In addition, Mike’s sudden exit reframed my relationship with aging. Each bit of softening, sagging, wrinkling, greying, means I am still here. The physical changes in my body are proof that I have had one more day to love, to be loved, to learn, to listen, to laugh, to cry, to wonder, to be both floored and awed by this wild ride we call Life.

 

Savasana: A Practice in Embracing Life

 

Savasana serves as a poignant reminder of life's impermanence. It's a deliberate practice of letting go, of surrendering to the present moment, and ultimately, of embracing the reality of our mortality. By consciously practicing Savasana, we acknowledge the finality of our existence, prompting us to live each moment more fully and authentically.


Karin Weinstein practicing Corpse Pose or Savasana
Karin practicing Corpse Pose

Living Fully, Loving Freely

 

What if we approached life with the same intentionality as we do Savasana? What if we lived each moment as if it were our last, cherishing every breath, every connection, every experience? It's a profound question that invites us to reflect on how we choose to engage with life and with one another.

 

Conclusion: Embracing Life's Final Pose

 

In the end, Savasana is not just about relaxation; it's about reverence for life itself. It's a practice of mindfulness, of gratitude, and of acceptance. So, the next time you find yourself in Savasana, allow yourself to truly embody the pose — not as a corpse, but as a living, breathing testament to the beauty and fragility of life. I invite you to practice Savasana with me.


Inspiration for this post: After writing this piece, I heard Alua Arthur's interview with Dan Harris. I highly recommend listening to both that interview and her most recent TED Talk. I was also inspired and uplifted by this podcast interview with Alok Vaid-Menon on letting go of control.

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