Teacher's Savasana

Ever wonder what teachers do during your savasana? Most of the time, they don’t do savasana. They meditate, or stretch quietly, or even do a headstand, as one of my Toronto fellow teachers once said.

I typically use that time to meditate and watch over students, as if watching over their sleep. During my first teacher training, in one of the most memorable sessions, we were teamed up in pairs of two and asked to lead each other through a full restorative practice. Our teacher warned that we might be tempted to do “something else” during a long-held pose. And she insisted we sit mindfully next to our student, as if to ward off bad spirits and vampires. Basically, she wanted us to practice the most fundamental pose of all: attention, presence. It’s one thing to pay attention to your own experience, it’s another to be present for someone else’s practice.

<strong>For me, the experience was one of well-wishing</strong>, not only for the yoginii in front of me, but for everyone, no matter who they were.

There is something very profound about well-wishing for others, as a practice. Yes, you can wish well to others, in the passing, but you can also sit and intentionally explore well-wishing in silence. (My advice would be to start with a person or pet for whom it is easy for you to feel positive, and slowly make your way to people who leave you indifferent, and finally to people who upset you. You’ll be surprised how much space it might create for you.)

Like everyone, I’m not perfect. Practicing well-wishing during savasana is a way for me to keep exploring my intentions and motivations as a teacher, and to stay connected to the real reason I started teaching in the first place: inspiring transformation and empowerment. This practice leaves me fulfilled after class, and it helps me tame the critics’ voice inside me, the one that lists everything I said and did “wrong” that day. Here’s another little yoga teacher dirty secret: we encourage and empower our students to go beyond their fears and judgments, yet we are oftentimes our own worst critics. And that’s part of our learning.

So today, I taught two classes. Two sweet long savasanas, where I sat upright and guarded the room against evil spirits (in a figurative way, of course). And when I arrived home, I felt fulfilled. And really tired.

Teachers need their savasana too, after all.