Savasana might look like a cosy little snooze at the end of your yoga practice. But it’s actually a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake, yet completely relaxed. In Savasana — also known as corpse pose — you lie down on your back and relax your body and mind so you may fully assimilate the benefits of your asana practice.
During this pose, you close your eyes, breathe naturally, and practice eliminating tension from the body. Ideally, this posture lasts for 10 to 20 minutes (anything less than 10 and you’ve been cheated!) However, even a few minutes of Savasana is said to have powerful benefits.
The Benefits of Savasana
Savasana helps relieve mild depression, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia, according to Yoga Journal. Savasana can calm the nervous system and promote calmness and composure in your entire body. Fatigued muscles get to relax, tense shoulders release away from the ears, jaws soften, and the eyes sink back to reflect a quieter state of mind.
Common Challenges of Savasana
This simple-sounding pose is often more difficult than you might realise. The body can cause distractions that make it a challenge. Your body might feel cold, itchy, sweaty or unsettled. Savasana is at the end of the yoga practice to remedy this obstacle.
By the time you’ve completed your physical practise of postures, your mind and body will hopefully be tired enough to enable a complete surrender during Savasana.
Even if your body is easily persuaded to rest, your mind can get be a little more stubborn. There are a multitude of thoughts that often arise during Savasana:
How much longer will we be here?
Did that somebody just snore?
I hope I didn’t snore.
What shall I make for dinner when I get home?
Do I need to buy milk on the way home?
I’ve got so much ironing to do!
I’m so sweaty.
I haven’t remembered to post that birthday card.
Maybe I should quit my job.
It is normal for the mind to try to resist deep relaxation. Savasana is the ultimate act of conscious surrender. It takes practice and patience to surrender easily.
The world we live in moves so quickly; mastering the art of Savasana is more valuable now, than ever. Our society places such a great value on speed; learning how to do nothing is a skill that can help you become more productive when you need to be.
Savasana helps us to learn how to completely surrender, stop racing the clock, and makes space for peace to fill the soul. Savasana is almost like turning off your computer when it stops responding. When you switch it back on, the computer springs back to full working order.
5 Steps to a Successful Savasana
1. Prepare to Relax. Stretch out on your mat and be sure you’re completely comfortable. Use bolsters, pillows, blankets, and cover your eyes with an eye pillow or towel. The more comfortable you are, the more you can relax. The more relaxed you are, the more easily you can surrender. The more open you are to surrendering, the more benefits you’ll receive.
2. Take one final cleansing breath. As you take one audible exhale, this signals to your body to release into the pose. This cleansing breath also sends a message to your parasympathetic nervous system that it is safe to relax and be just as you are.
3. Scan for tension. Mentally run through all the parts of your body and try to make them heavier. Sometimes a guided scan by your teacher can ease you into your relaxation. Be on the lookout for tension hiding in the jaw, temples, shoulders, and hips because stress likes to accumulate in these areas.
4. Then, just notice. Some days will be easier than others, and that’s part of the practice. See if you can be still, at ease, and simply trust that the breath will carry you to the next moment. Watch for those peaceful moments of quiet between the thoughts. Over time, they’ll get longer, and you’ll find more inner quiet.
5. Setting an intention. Before you come out of Savasana, take a mental note of how you feel on every level. Ask yourself what you’d like to take with you from your practice and perhaps what you might like to leave behind. Seal these observations into your mind with an inner smile. Enjoy a deep inhale to awaken and emerge from your practise. Always take a moment to notice that you feel more rested, peaceful, and alive than you did before.
Savasana is a time of rest, but not a time to sleep. If you have a tendency to fall asleep, be compassionate with yourself, and acknowledge that your body needed some rest. Over time, you can train yourself to achieve the rest you need while remaining awake.
Give your Savasana the same attention you give to your Downward Dog or your Warrior II poses; notice the effects. If you consistent with your practice, the calm and surrender you experience on the mat will eventually filter into your life off the mat. This is ultimately why we all practice yoga in the first place!