Endings and Beginnings in a Yoga Class

Photo by Michele Venne

Though the beginning of a yoga class can change, the ending is the same. Savasana (corpse pose) is the supine position at the end of yoga classes. The benefits of this pose is that all the work done during class now has a chance to integrate. It can also be an opportunity to meditate, to let go of any angst created during class, and to relax the mind and the body.

Most times, I began my classes in Sukasana (easy seat). Here, I invited the student to close their eyes, to connect with the breath, to check in with the body and just notice it all. Sometimes I started the session in a posture. The purpose depended on my intention for the class. Did I want to warm up the body? Did I want to integrate pranayama (breath work)? Did I sense I high energy level and want my students to settle into the moment, leaving behind, even if just for the class, all that had occurred before we stepped onto the mat?

As students move through the postures in a class, there is also a beginning and an ending to each pose. Breaking it down further, we could say there’s a beginning and ending to each transition as we move from pose to pose. Even for each breath, we can mark where it starts and where it ends.

A practice we can try is to let go of each breath, of each transition, of each pose when the next one comes along. It’s when we hang on to, “I couldn’t balance on that side, so I won’t be able to do this side, either,” that we miss out on the in-the-moment peace that yoga offers. We can celebrate when the teacher moves on from Utkadasana (chair pose) and when we stretch out on our mats in Savasana. But we can also be open as we move into a balance pose or an inversion, letting the beginning come because we know the ending will follow.

When we’re in our next yoga class (or following along with an online instructor), can we notice the beginnings and endings of each pose? Can we pay attention to our thoughts about those beginnings and endings? Start the class by leaving behind all that isn’t in that moment. End the class by allowing poses to integrate into the body and the mind.