The yoga classes in India begin with a prayer and end with savasana, corpse pose, also known as deep relaxation here in the West. This ritual made a strong impression on me, and it has become a path I have followed each day with each yoga practice.
The prayers at the beginning of practice were never imposed on us by the teachers. They took the form of traditional chants. They had the effect of composing the mind before practice. Quite often they led to good thoughts about the things most dear to me.
At the end of class we practiced savasana. Lying motionless after a strenuous practice of postures we would be asked to observe our bodies, surrender to gravity, and detach from the outside world; its effect enjoyable, profound and mysterious. Iyengar would call savasana a watchful surrendering of the ego, where in forgetting oneself one discovers oneself.
At year’s end it is the custom to take stock of the past and make resolutions for the future. The yoga path teaches us that that these sentiments need not be confined to once a year. Each practice offers the opportunity to resolve anew. Yoga philosophy teaches us that good thoughts cannot go without affect. Each practice can end with some time of stillness and quiet reflection, arriving at a place where we can put our imperfections aside, embrace what is creative within us. At the intersection of yoga practice and life we can find that each day brings with it an opportunity to start again with hope and confidence and end with some quiet contact with our highest aspirations.