Dying a little

I think a little about dying these days. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I think about my own death, how I would prepare if I knew it was imminent; I even dare to think about the deaths of my loved ones, wondering how I might ready myself for the inescapable pain I will feel.

I sometimes think about how yoga helps with this final aspect of life. But most of the time I allow myself to get distracted by the glitziness of modern postural yoga — wearing the fancy leggings, the pseudo-spiritual playlists, chasing some fancy poses…

In class (back in the days when we had physical classes to go to) my teacher sometimes used to refer to Savasana as ‘a little death’. I had to swallow down my childish impulse to giggle as I lay supine in a row of other other women while he tiptoed around us, dimming the lights and pulling the curtains to, enveloping us in an artificial twilight. I mean, surely he knows that’s a euphemism for the female organism? I think this is naive rather than creepy…

I trust him. That’s why my impulse was always to giggle rather than run out and never come back. In fact I like to think in the odd phrasing he was gently alluding to the pose as a deep, primal letting go — of desires, thoughts, impulses, individuality.

In our online classes the teacher doesn’t stay for Savasana. He gently sets us up and then leaves us in our virtual stay-safe-at-home Savasanas, urging us to remain there as long as we can. I try to respect his choice, but I hate this aspect of his online teaching. If savasana is such an essential experience, why would he leave us to go it alone?

I have a hard time settling. I softly discipline myself to stay the requisite minimum ten minutes. I have a favourite music track which sees me through in some semblance of stillness inside and out, but really I feel abandoned, betrayed even. I have a hard time of letting go of anything as I lie patiently, aware of the signs of life around me as Hubby begins to cook dinner on the other side of the wall.

And then recently a Savasana outside anything I’ve experienced before. One of those weird yoga moments when it feels as though you’ve fallen through a crack in time, consciousness shifts, and the moment is as vivid as it is indescribable. There’s nothing to compare it to. It’s a unique moment. My ‘first time’ even! A sudden sensation that I no longer existed. There was simply a feeling of nothingness. Non-existence. Yet it felt like a continuity, rather than a dying. There was nothing and yet I was there experiencing the nothing.

If I’d been at the studio I might have talked afterwards with my teacher, seeking some reassurance that this is normal, not a sign of madness or a premonition. But he had left already and my empty screen offered nothing.

So I got up, left the room, and helped finish the dinner preparations. I let go of the experience. I’m sure that’s what my teacher would have advised. Sometimes yoga must be experienced just as it as. Words only get in the way.

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