Savasana, also known as corpse or relaxation pose, is considered the most important pose in yoga. This soothing pose completely relaxes the body and helps release tension and tightness from all areas.
The posture is called corpse pose for two reasons.
First, because of the body’s position; in savasana you are lying on your back with arms comfortably resting beside you, legs slightly extended and turned out, eyes closed and long, deep breathing. Second, this pose helps you prepare for the last relaxation – death.
Unlike in western societies where death is considered the end of our lives, in the yogi tradition because of the belief in reincarnation death is one of the most important moments in life. To practice yoga you don’t have to believe in this philosophy, you can simply do it for physiological reasons and savasana truly has many physical benefits.
The benefits of mastering Savasana in Yoga practice (and life)
Savasana helps practitioners lower their blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce anxiety, and help tension seep away from muscles. It also boosts your memory and ability to focus, while increasing energy levels. Regular practice helps you sleep better and can bring a general feeling of satisfaction and well-being.
Practicing yoga fundamentally changes the neuromuscular structure of our body. The stillness of savasana is crucial in this process, particularly for the nervous system, because it allows our cells to integrate and accept all that was learnt in the class before entering normal life.
When practicing Kundalini yoga, such as, you are putting stress on your nervous system to strengthen it in the same way weightlifting helps us strengthen our biceps. By enhancing your strength and endurance you are better able to cope with real-life problems. But if you leave the class before savasana (since this pose is usually done at the end of the class), you won’t give yourself enough time to integrate all these changes before returning to your normal day-to-day activities. This means you won’t derive the greatest benefit from your practice.
Why it's important take time for savasana
Those who are constantly on the run and never take time to let their body and mind pause are the ones who need savasana the most. Yogi Bhajan, who had mastered Kundalini by the age of 16 and brought yoga to the west towards the end of 1960s, has even joined savasana with Sat Kriya to allow equal amount of time for practice and resting, to make sure all benefits are fully integrated.
With this in mind, it’s unclear as to why most modern yoga classes rush through savasana, cutting the traditional 30 minutes to only a couple. People who practice yoga individually often completely remove this pose from their programs.
Discussions on this subject mostly blame western culture which values speed, efficiency, and what appears hard to do, particularly regarding difficult poses like bound lotus, wheel or side arm balance. These poses while impressive and beautiful to watch, are out of reach of the majority of yoga practitioners. But hard work and benefits aren’t always directly correlated. In most contemporary societies, we associate success with work like participating in school and judging our minds by their ability to analyze, calculate, compare, and be constantly busy. Savasana is actually among the hardest yoga postures of all as it is the greatest act of surrender. It demands silence and pausing both the body and mind. Such deep relaxation is extremely difficult to carry out.
Ending the yoga class with savasana gives us a sense of ceremony and sacredness as well as an opportunity to more swiftly into deep peace and complete relaxation for ourselves.
Follow these 5-steps to be a Savasana Boss
- Lie on your back with your arms and legs spread at 45 degrees, palms up and feet and ankles turned out.
- Slightly adjust your body to find the position of complete physical comfort and become secure in your foundation.
- Close your eyes and relax your entire forehead, chin, and jaw. Become aware of your breathing and its natural rhythm.
- Concentrate on this feeling of serenity and stillness and try to relax each part of your body. Feel how the earth beneath you supports your body weight, and let go.
- Give yourself enough time and don’t rush. Try to stay this way for between 5 – 15 minutes, staying completely present to the experience of savasana to be able to go deep within yourself, thoroughly and consciously.
It’s best to always start your yoga practice with savasana to calm your thoughts and breathing, and then use it throughout the class, particularly after the more dynamic poses, to immediately integrate the changes into every cell and muscle of your body. If your mind is too busy and active and you can’t really quiet it, try counting your breaths backwards from 27 to 0 repeating to yourself “I am breathing in” and “I am breathing out” for each number. If any habitual thoughts or plans start pouring in and your mind wanders away, simply notice them and get back to counting to lead you to full relaxation.
New yoga practitioners may need personal guidance from an experienced yoga teacher to learn how to mentally communicate with each and every part of the body. You can start from your legs and move upwards toward your pelvis, stomach, chest, and back feeling every inch of your fingers, arms, neck and head. Or you can begin with the right side of your body and then repeat the process with your left side. Feel every major body part one by one to make a full connection. You can take this as far and deep as you wish using your imagination to explore in detail every membrane, tissue, blood vessel, and bone in your body. Your imaginative powers will intuitively lead you to knowledge, kindness, and inner wisdom.
Savasana is about finding the balance between the conscious and unconscious. It’s about being aware but not thinking, being relaxed but not asleep, and letting go of all control.