The season and academic year are ending. The concerts will be finished. We feel a sense of accomplishment, relief, and celebration, colored with the bittersweet realization that it is still an imperfect world both in and out of our choral lives. Our limbs may feel heavy, our energy is drained, and our exhales are getting longer. It’s time for savasana.
Coming to the end of an intense period of our life demands that we rest, not only physically, but to allow all that came before this moment to sink in. As in savasana, the final pose in a yoga practice, we need to assimilate what we experienced in order to fully learn from it physically, emotionally, and intellectually. Though laying on your mat looks like a nap (and sometimes turns into one), savasana is restful awareness, a state of quiet processing of the words, movements, and feelings experienced in the practice. This is the time to release holding, detach from judgment and fear, and receive insight into what.just.happened.
How can we experience a “professional savasana” (pronounced “sha-VAH-suh-nuh”) as we end the year?
Create space. As your conducting or teaching responsibilities wind down, avoid adding more items to the to-do list that will keep your body and mind and schedule revving. Build in time to rest in simple ways, even if just sitting with a cup of coffee at an outdoor café. Know that you have nowhere you need to be right now.
Reduce sensory stimulation. Turn off the devices, even the music. Let ambient sound be your soundscape and notice how challenging—and then how restorative—this is.
Practice equal breathing (sama vrtti). Without straining, see if you can find an equal length to your inhales and your exhales, slowly resetting the nervous system to bring you to homeostasis. Feel your body release.
Allow the thoughts and emotions of the year’s experiences to sink in, without analyzing, judging, or ruminating. Listen for insight into what it all means but be content with not knowing what it all means. It just is. What you need to know will unfold over time.
Be grateful for this body that got you through, imperfect and strained at times, and for the skill set that you brought to your work (and strengthened) as you moved through the year. You showed up.
Hold space for the many people you guided and impacted, knowing their unique narratives—from painful to joyful—and recognizing how they enhanced your life. See their face, meditate on their smile and spirit, and send a silent blessing or thank-you to them.
Remind yourself that you are part of something much bigger. Universally connected, divinely inspired, and lovingly supported. Even if you don’t feel it right now, affirm it to be so and welcome it into your life.
When you are done, begin to deepen your breathing and allow your movements to be gentle and your pace easy as you go on to the rest of your day. Carry the benefits of savasana with you . . . and find a small place of peace in this world.
Dr. Ramona Wis is the Mimi Rolland Endowed Professor in the Fine Arts, Professor of Music, and Director of Choral Activities at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois and the author of The Conductor as Leader: Principles of Leadership Applied to Life on the Podium. Dr. Wis is a 500-hour CYT (Certified Yoga Teacher) with training in yoga history, philosophy, meditation, energetics, pranayama (breath work), anatomy, Sanskrit, and the teaching, sequencing, and adaptations of asana (posture-based) practice. Reach her at: