When the time has come, the teacher is calling you, or your timer has beckoned, begin to return to life by allowing your breath to be deeper, longer. Bring some movement to your fingers and toes while you roll your head from side to side. Take a moment to move your wrists and ankles in circles: circle in both directions to stimulate energy flow again. When you are ready, hug your knees to your chest in preparation for making the body small and round. Take a deep inhalation, and on the exhalation bring your head and knees together, and squeeze. Make yourself as small and as round as you can – as small as a ten-pound turkey. [1] Release.

Wake up by stretching out the whole body – this is a natural energizer, one that many people have forgotten to do when they wake up in the morning. Move any supports away, and stretch your legs out and arms over your head. Interlock your fingers and turn the palms away from you. Press your lower back down; flex your toes toward your nose. Now take a huge inhalation, fill your lungs – and stretch. Make yourself as long as possible; contract all your facial muscles, and make your face as small as possible. Push and pull yourself longer. Then release with a loud sighing “haaah.”

Once more, flex the toes, flatten your lower back, and take a big inhalation. Stretch your body. This time, open your face, mouth, and eyes, as wide as you can; stick your tongue out; touch your chin – stretch! Reach! Exhale, and relax with a sigh.

 

Hug your knees once more into your chest, and roll to your left side; pause there a moment, and let the energy settle. Stretch out your bottom arm under your head, and use it as a pillow: enjoy how this feels. [2] 

Don’t linger too long here; coming back to life is like being reincarnated. Don’t stay in the bardo state between Shavasana (your little death) and rebirth too long, or you may decide to stay there forever. When you are ready, spiral up to sitting and prepare for your final meditation or pranayama practice. If you still feel that you are not quite back to normal, you may want to end your practice with alternate nostril breathing to fully balance your energies. [3]

 

  1. — Of course, being a yogi, this would be a tofu turkey.
  2. — Often teachers will ask students to end the class by lying on their right side to relax the heart. This is a great suggestion for ending a yang class. Lying on the right side helps to open the left nostril, due to a sinus reflex. However, the left nostril is the yin channel. After ninety minutes or so of yin practice, it is nice to balance the body by lying on the left side, allowing the right nostril, the yang channel, to open.
  3. — See the section on Nadi Shodana to learn how to do alternate nostril breathing.