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Corpse Pose for Meditation

by Patrice Priya WagnerWhen doctrine shops on meditation, I’ve had students ask me what pose to use and usually I answer, “Pick a seated position that is comfortable for you, that you can hold for the entire time you want to reflect, and try not to fall asleep.” However, recently I learned of some textual-based sign about the pose used by some ancient yogis for meditation that I could refer to when that question comes up again.I’m fascinated by the history of yoga and am taking advantage of the current progress made by academics who are restating and saving ancient gumption textbooks written in Sanskrit many centuries ago by yogis in India and other parts of South Asia. A few days ago, I started an online route on Raja Yoga offered by Yogic Studies and while I assumed that content from the sees and castigates would interest me, I expected most of it would be irrelevant to what I teach in present-day Hatha and musing classes.To my surprise, last week I was on the edge of my set when I learned which pose some of the archaics used for meditation during the second millennium CE. To throw this in context, in India during that period, yogic reflection was done in order to reach samadhi, a word with countless translations including the no-mind state, bliss, and enlightenment. During that epoch, succeeding in Raja Yoga was the ultimate goal of any yoga practice and doing Hatha Yoga was not always required. Needless to say, yoga practice at that time was significantly different than it is in the 21 st century.In an ancient textbook called the Dattatatreyayogasastra, which is dated from about 1,200 CE, I given to understand that the pose we currently know as Corpse pose where you lie on your back in an anatomically neutral post, was taught in Laya Yoga as a position in which to practice “dissolution of the mind.” In Laya Yoga, this practice of disintegration of the spirit was a meditation technique and one of the boulevards used to reach samadhi, an easy one in fact, according to this ancient text. This was the first time I learned it was actually traditional for some yogis to meditate in a reclined position.The Hathayogapradipika by Svatmarama, a more recent text from 1,450 CE, which is often referred to on questions about the starts of poses and patterns we do today, clarifies Savasana as an asana to be used in the physical Hatha yoga practice. However, the earlier textbook the Dattatatreyayogasastra speaks of Savasana in the context of meditation practice only.I was glad to learn some new information that is certainly relevant to what I school these days. Now when a student has asked me about what constitute to use for meditation, I can explain what I learned from the Dattatatreyayogasastra or, if I’m short-lived on time, I can just say, “You can reflect in a sat outlook or you could lie on your back in Corpse pose like the archaics did, but try not to fall asleep! “Patrice Priya Wagner, RYT 500, C-IAYT, trained in Integral Yoga and has educated people with disabilities since 2008. Priya is on the Board of Directors of Accessible Yoga, and encouraged or co-presented in Accessible Yoga’s gatherings held in New York City and San Francisco in 2017, and in Santa Barbara in 2015 and 2016. She currently offers classes for parties with Multiple Sclerosis in Oakland, California, and be brought to her belief a focus on mindfulness and meditation to develop peace of mind inside and out of the studio. Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email deg Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook deg To guild Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being, go to Amazon, Shambhala, Indie Bound or your regional bookstore.

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