Corpse Posture T he final pose of any yoga class is one of deep restoration: Corpse Pose, also sometimes called Final Relaxation Pose. Its S...
Corpse PostureThe final pose of any yoga class is one of deep restoration: Corpse Pose, also sometimes called Final Relaxation Pose. Its Sanskrit name, “Savasana” (shah-VAHS-uh-nuh), comes from two words. The first is “Sava” (meaning “corpse”), and the second is “asana” (meaning “pose”). Savasana implies a depth of release that goes beyond simple relaxation. This resting pose takes your yoga practice to a place where you can completely let go.
Though it may seem like an easy pose, Savasana can actually be very tough to learn and practice well. The great yoga masters K. Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar even called Savasana the most difficult of all yoga poses. For many students, the ability to lie completely still — like a corpse — while being both fully aware of and unattached from the present moment takes much practice and patience. Unlike active, moving, and physically demanding poses, Savasana requires a conscious decision to release the mental chatter and surrender fully into a state of presence.
- Lie down on your back.
- Let go of holding your legs straight so that your feet fall out to either side.
- Bring your arms alongside your body, but slightly separated from the torso.
- Turn your palms to face upwards but don't try to keep them open. Let the fingers curl in.
- Tuck your shoulder blades on to your back for support. This is a similar movement to tucking the shoulders under in bridge pose, but less intense.
- Relax your whole body, including the face. Let the body feel heavy.
- Let your breathing occur naturally. If your mind wanders, you can bring your attention to your breath but try to just notice it, not deepen it.
- Stay for a minimum of five minutes. Ten minutes is better. If you are practicing at home, set an alarm so that you're not compelled to check the time.
- To come out, first begin to the deepen the breath. Then begin to wiggle the fingers and toes, slowly awakening the body.
- Stretch your arms overhead for a full body stretch from hands to feet.
- Bring your knees into your chest and roll over to one side, keeping your eyes closed. Use your arm as a pillow while you rest in a fetal position for a few breaths.
- Bring yourself back up into a sitting position using your hands to support yourself.
Here are some ideas on ways to use props during savasana to make this pose more comfortable and relaxing.
Though it’s sometimes used to begin practice, Savasana is most often used to end practice to allow your body, mind, and spirit to fully relax and release tension. It’s a time to let lingering thoughts and worries fade away. From the depth and darkness of Savasana, you can be rejuvenated, refreshed, and reborn.
The deeply relaxing aspect of Savasana is known to be therapeutic for stress. When you’re under stress, your sympathetic nervous system produces a “fight or flight” response that can over-stimulate your mind and body, causing anxiety, fatigue, depression, and disease. Conversely, practicing Savasana stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system — known as the “rest and digest” response. Relaxing the physical body in Savasana has numerous benefits, including:
- Lowered blood pressure
- A decreased heart rate
- Slowed rate of respiration
- Decreased muscle tension
- Decreased metabolic rate
- Reduced occurrence of headaches
- Relief from fatigue and insomnia
- Reduced nervous tension
- Relief from anxiety and panic attacks
- Increased overall energy levels
- Increased productivity
- Improved concentration and memory
- Clear-headedness and a sense of focus
- Heightened self-confidence