How to Practice, and Benefit from Savasana -Corpse Pose- in Yoga
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How to Practice, and Benefit from Savasana -Corpse Pose- in Yoga

Savasana, or corpse pose, is the final pose done in a traditional yoga practice. It offers many benefits for the body and the mind, yet is often overlooked due to its subtlety.

Savasana is, traditionally, the final pose done in yoga. While many yoga teachers claim that this is the most important and most difficult pose of all, many yoga students tend to take this pose for granted, and therefore miss the many benefits it has to offer.

Savasana is done while laying on one’s back on a yoga mat or the floor. It is a meditative pose focusing on relaxation and restoration of the body after a physical yoga practice. Savasana is done at the end of class, or a personal practice, in order to seal the practice, and offer the body and mind a chance to relax and recover before going about the day.

The word Savasana comes from the ancient language Sanskrit. This is the language yoga was originally developed and taught in. Savasana can be translated to mean “corpse pose”, which might be confusing, if not off-putting to modern, western yoga practitioners. This pose gets its name from the fact that the primary goal is to get the body and the mind in a neutral position, where they are no longer making any effort what-so-ever. This is how deep relaxation is achieved.

When the body is allowed to enter a deep state of relaxation, the brain turns on the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the brain that allows tissue to heal (cell growth), aids in digestion, lowers the heart rate and blood pressure, and many other functions that contribute to good health. In addition to Savasana’s benefits to the body, there are also great benefits to the mind that can be achieved. This pose gives the practitioner a chance to be completely inside themselves, letting go of the events of the day, and the everyday obligations that can begin to accumulate and cause stress. In savasana, the practitioner is encouraged to let go of anything other than the present moment and “just be”. This is an opportunity for stillness and peace, two things that are increasingly hard to find in our modern world.

Here are the basic instructions for practicing this pose:

  • Lay flat on your back on a yoga mat or blanket
  • Close the eyes and deepen the breath
  • Begin to focus on the inhales and the exhales, letting go of anything else in your mind
  • Allow the feet to fall away from one another
  • Turn the palms to face the ceiling (this allows the shoulders to lay open)
  • Lengthen the back of the neck, so that it is straight and not bent
  • Mentally scan the body, starting at the feet and working your way up to the chin
  • Look for any tension being stored in the body, often manifested as clenched muscles
  • Unclench any tense muscles; visualize the tension leaving the body with the exhales
  • Bring the awareness into the face
  • Unclench the jaw
  • Let the tongue be soft in the mouth
  • Allow the cheeks to rest down the face
  • Gently close the eyelids over the eyes, without squinting them shut
  • Feel the eyebrows slide away from one another
  • Soften the forehead

Now that the body is completely free from tension, and in a state of deep relaxation, allow the mind to become quiet and unfocused. This is difficult to do, and takes practice, however just the practice alone will provide great benefits. Anytime a distracting thought or noise breaks your relaxation, just let it go, bringing the awareness back to the breathing. Stay in this pose for as long as you like, a good rule of thumb is 5 minutes of savasana for every 30 minutes of physical practice.

Finally, there are many ways to modify this pose if laying flat on the back is painful or uncomfortable. The practitioner can place a pillow or rolled up blanket under the knees, to release the lower back. If there is neck pain, one can place a rolled up blanket under the nape of the neck for extra support.

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Comments (1)

great write up