A few months ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to attend a yoga class with my dad. I traveled to Laconia and found myself in a cute little yoga studio with a gong on the wall, intense mood lighting, incense burning, and an eerie calmness in the air. When I entered the room, the lights were dim and I caught a glimpse of the smoke pluming from the incense. It was so serene that my anxiety was instantly relaxed by the mood of the space. I was expecting a public room in a gym where the yoga was strictly about the exercise. Yoga originated in 3000 BCE India and was all about “a way to achieve harmony between the heart and the soul” (yogasix). Therefore, the instructor tried his best to guide all of the participants to a relaxed state of mind, and I can’t say I have ever felt more relaxed than I have while doing some intense yoga. I was glad the instructor had knowledge about the subject he was teaching. When yoga became specifically about the exercise aspect of it, the essential traditions and teachings of yoga became irrelevant. This brings me back to ideas of postcolonialism and tourism. Once a group of people (such as tourists) begin to take on practices from another culture, these practices become diluted over time and less true to the original idea.
One of the first things the instructor told us was that we should always be conscious of our breathing. This was so strange to me; a process I do everyday without thinking about was suddenly brought to my attention. I remember not being able to stop thinking about breathing for the remainder of the class. What I really wanted to discuss was the end of the class. To conclude the yoga, everybody in the room began to enter Savasana. This word comes from Sanskrit; Shava meaning “corpse” and asana meaning “pose.” So the phrase “corpse pose” already has me a little uneasy going into this, not to mention that I was in a dark room full of strangers doing the same thing. We all laid on our backs and closed our eyes while meditation music played in the background. It was crazy where my mind went if I just allowed my thoughts to flow themselves. The feeling of uncanniness began to creep over me, however, as I realized after a certain point that I felt completely in my mind and almost not at all in my body. It’s hard to explain, but after relaxing for an hour of yoga combined with breathing steadily and paced the whole time, all while listening to very spiritual and calming music, my mind was able to drift in directions it never has before. I was able to forget everyday stresses and think about relaxing things like nature and art and my passions. Savasana for us was 15 minutes, and at the end when the instructor spoke, it startled me out of my head and back to my body. I slowly began to move my limbs again after 15 minutes of lying in the exact same spot. It was like sleeping, but slightly different as I was still aware of the music around me and the fact that I felt like my mind was still awake.
Ever since my first encounter with yoga, I have longed to keep going back. The practice of Savasana is something I look forward to again and again as it deviates from any other form of meditation I have tried before. The human mind is so powerful, and just like dreams, we never really know what we are capable of thinking of until our minds are set loose to wander.