I'm sure you will have noticed the rise in popularity of stillness practices such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation, etc. I believe this is because there is a real need for these as the demands of our attention are more and more through technology and a fast-paced society. There is now, more than ever, a need for balance and recognition of the need for stillness, in movement practices and in life.
Growth and decay, expansion and contraction, movement and stillness. Life is about balance and about opposites. Much of exercise, fitness and movement is about growth, building upon and expansion, but it also needs to be about balance. The benefits of movement are integrated much better into the body when the body has a chance to be still and absorb all the movements, learnings and new neurological pathways that have been discovered in the movement phase.
Much like a practice of meditation, stillness allows space to take a step back and observe ourselves and life events. It allows time to consolidate and integrate what has been learned and observed so that better choices can be made for the future. Imagine if you were to build a house without taking time for the foundations to set, or if you were to bake bread without allowing it time to prove. Stillness is needed for change to occur.
It is for this reason that we use pauses in somatic classes and also shavasana at the end of a yoga practice. Below is a brief overview of the importance of stillness in the types of classes I teach.
Shavasana in yoga
This is far from having a sleep at the end of a class, it is allowing space for what has been generated through the good work we have done to sink into our bodies and awareness so that it begins to transform us and we can live the benefits of what we have worked towards. After all the movement and outward expression of the poses, shavasana is where you allow yourself to open and receive. But of course if you fall asleep, that's fine too.
Pauses in somatic awareness
The pause in somatic movement classes is part of the somatic movement process to re-pattern neuro-muscular pathways and awaken your body from unconscious patterns of holding/moving. The movements are pandiculations, and this involves three parts; a contraction of a muscle, a conscious and controlled lengthening of the muscle; and finally a pause and letting go which allows the body to integrate and learn from the information it just gathered throughout the first two phases of the pandiculation.
There are many ways to meditate, but something as simple as taking 5 minutes to be still and observe your breath or surroundings interrupts the thinking inside your head and brings you into a state of being present with where you are, allowing clarity to come into your life.