Yoga practices today tend to be focused on fast-paced Vinyasa flows or alignment-based yoga with an emphasis on healthy biomechanics.
But yoga is also about deepening our inner experience, notes acclaimed yoga teacher Judith Hanson Lasater in this free download. If we learn how to make our yoga practice a sanctuary, a place of refuge, yoga is also about fostering greater mindfulness and peacefulness.
“Our lives in the modern Western world are very busy,” says Judith. “Everyone needs a place of refuge, where we are at ease, physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically, spiritually.”
Refuge has been a part of all spiritual traditions, but people usually thinking about it as withdrawing from the world. But can we find refuge without living cloistered away from the world? And if so, how can we facilitate this experience?
The only refuge that exists, Judith notes, is inside of us. Refuge is not running away from or withdrawing from anything. It’s about moving toward, about choosing how we want to be in the world in that moment.
Yoga developed out of a desire to avoid suffering. But nowadays we want to do something different. We want to use our yoga, not just to avoid suffering, but to become fully whole and present, Judith notes. We are yearning for the self-realization, integration, wholeness that comes along with being at ease at home, happy, full, and rich.
The key to this, Judith notes, is to learn to reset our nervous system so we don’t live in a constant state of overdrive. She talks about how Savasana traditionally in yoga was practiced very differently and added an important level of experience not found in today’s yoga classes.
“Yoga students today are not trained in this aspect of yoga,” Judith notes. “They wlll learn Downward Dog pose and Headstand, but they’re not being trained in how to relax. It’s just about exercise.”
Savasana is a deeper practice, it’s an expression of letting go consciously. Not trying to meditate. Not trying to change the breath, not trying to watch the thoughts arise. It’s just a state of being.
“Savasana to me is a way of going deep enough to where the practice invades you on a different level,” Judith notes. “It is here that yoga practice exposes your deepest self. It opens the doors of the temple and who you really are shines out.”
Judith goes on to describe the setup necessary to prepare students or yourself for a deeper experience in Savasana. This involves having the correct physical setup with props to stay supported and comforted. It also involves have an experienced teacher setting students up with breathing or images.
Judith gives examples from her teaching on how to students up in their practice to find greater ease, silence, softness, and simplicity.
You may also enjoy Judith’s course, Taking Refuge: Coming Home to Ourselves.