In the land of the-more-you-do-the-better-you-are, simply being can be a challenge. Perhaps that's why Savasana isn't the "cool kid" in yoga class. Let's face it, Savasana doesn't show off your phyiscal capabilities or impress your yoga friends. You might say it's the sleeper of asana (based on the snoring I've heard in yoga classes, this is actually true). If you're a yoga teacher, this scenario might sound familiar:
"Come to a lying position on your mat, arms at your side. Let your legs relax and your feet naturally turn out. Rest in Savasana..."
You hear some rustling and notice that a couple of students are packing up their bags and rolling up their yoga mats. Others are quietly tiptoeing out the door, trying to not to disturb the rest of the class. Some offer up a sheepish look of apology as they slink out of class, while others are too busy furiously pushing buttons on their formerly silent cell phones to look up and give you a silent goodbye.
"Hmmmmm...was it something I said???"
Now I'm not trying to be harsh. It's possible that those folks have an important appointment to get to or a child to retrieve from school or sports practice or any number of personal matters that need their attention. The thing is -- skipping out on Savasana is a darned shame. It's such a perfect way to integrate the benefits of a yoga practice and serve as a transition time from yoga class to outside world.
I admit that I, myself, had a bit of a difficult relationship with Savasana at first. Even though I never skipped out on it, I would find my mind racing and my body refusing to relax as I laid upon my mat. I'd hear gentle snores coming from the mat next to mine, and yet my brain was anything but restful. Perhaps it was the fact that I had just spent over an hour trying to be in my body rather than my brain and my brain wanted the attention back. Regardless, I stuck with Savasana over the years and find myself loving it now. It's like a best friend that I can always turn to when I most need to.
I've experimented with some Savasana helpers over the years -- I've used blocks and bolsters to support my body, I've used acupressure mats (I love 'em!), and sometimes I've used music (or sound, such as a gong or Tibetan Singing Bowl). Often, these things have added a little more aaaahhhhh to my Savasana (or should I say Savasanahhhhhhh?). My latest favorite addition to my Savasana time -- becalm balls.
No, not Ben Wa Balls (that's a whole other blog post for a blog on a different topic). It may sound like a gimmick, but I jumped at the chance to try these babies because I'm a fan of Craniosacral work and these nifty little cushiony balls were created by the co-founder and director of the Cranial Therapy Center in Toronto. Far from a gimmick, becalm balls are designed to interrupt the stress cycle by triggering the body's natural ability to bring it to a standstill. Craniosacral therapists and osteopaths refer to this a stillpoint.
You simply place the becalm balls behind the head (at eye level), and they bring about a stillpoint in a matter of minutes. In about 10-15 minutes, you can notice positive effects such as:
- Relaxation, increased sense of gravity
- Reduced pain
- Settle stomach
- Reduced stress
- Slowed breath
- Calm mind, meditative ease
- Increased mental focus
- Renewed vitality
Granted, I was confident that the becalm balls would live up to expectation, yet I still found myself a bit shocked when I noticed an instant settling after positioning the balls under my head. I felt totally relaxed and I could feel the tension in my face/head/eyes easing. A few minutes later, it felt like my sinuses had magically drained. I was ready to wax poetic about my nifty little discovery on this blog, but I held back so that I could spend a few weeks with the becalm balls to make sure that I wasn't experiencing some sort of beginner's luck.
Suffice to say -- I'm dropping into Savasana a few times a day so that I can use the becalm balls (hmmmm...I might have lost sight of the yoga, eh?). I think I'm addicted! I tend to hold tension in my jaw, and I've noticed quite an improvement since using the becalm balls. Now, I can't imagine Savasana without them. They've turned standard Savasana into what feels like some sort of therapeutic treatment (without the exorbitant price).
Becalm balls are inexpensive (they retail for $30) and come with a handly little pouch so you can take them with you anywhere. The balls are made from a squishy material that offers both give and support and the design is simple -- the balls are strung on a chord with plastic clips so you can adjust the balls to the perfect width. Positioning is easy thanks to the clear instructions provided by the manufacturer. The key is placement -- rather than place them where we feel tension at the base of the skull, they go higher up and work by providing slack to the cranium through cradled support. Once you have the correct height, you use the width adjustment to create just the slightest bit of inward pressure.
Believe me -- you'll know when you get it right. You'll feel it immediately.
The becalm Web site claims that the balls are useful for pain, stress, insomnia, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and headaches. I can't vouch for all of those because I don't suffer from many of those issues, but I can say that they produce a feeling of well-being and reduce tension quite effectively. The company, which is based in Canada, shipped the becalm balls quickly, and I got them in a matter of days. If you'd like to read more about using becalm balls in the practice of yoga, click here.
This fabulous invention gets the Diane seal of approval. I've recommended them to some friends, so I only thought it fair to recommend them to my readers. If you're interested, you can find ordering information, FAQs and instructions at www.becalm.ca. They've added an extra AHHHHHH to my Savasana.
I can't help but wonder if the Savasana drop-out rate would decline if becalm balls were used in yoga class...