If you’ve ever taken a yoga class or practiced to a video, you are already familiar with the pose known as Corpse Pose, or Savasana (shah-VAHS-uh-nuh) in Sanskrit. Those of you who aren’t familiar with Savasana might be able to relate to it as Lying on the Floor with Your Eyes Closed Pose.
It looks, and often feels, like a nap. A nice little doze at the end of your practice. In fact, I’m willing to bet that every long-time yoga practitioner has drifted to sleep at least once during Savasana.
That, of course, is wonderful! But Savasana is more than just sleepytime on your mat. It’s a real pose, with real alignment that you may want to consider the next time you flop into it. If you’re new to Savasana, just follow the instructions below. If you’re new to yoga, period, you might find Savasana a very welcoming introductory pose.
Benefits of Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Many yoga traditions actually consider Savasana to be the most important pose in yoga. That’s because deep relaxation allows your body to fully process and assimilate all of the benefits from practicing yoga poses and breathing exercises. But it’s also beneficial any time of the day, after or before any activity. When your body relaxes, your parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”) kicks into gear, counteracting the dis-ease caused by overstimulation of the sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system.
Some of the benefits of this deep relaxation include:
- 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
The mind-body benefits are plentiful! But deep relaxation can be elusive to some people who find it hard to soften the mental chatter of everyday life. Just remember: like any yoga pose, Savasana takes practice. Try 2 minutes of Savasana a day and work your way up to 5 minutes or longer. Set a timer if you need to. As you become accustomed to relaxing, you will become more aware of those grace-filled moments of peace and stillness in your everyday life.
Stuff to Know:
- This post is not intended as medical advice. If you are suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, an eating disorder, severe sleep disruption, or any other mental state that is causing concern to you or your loved ones, please seek the help of a professional.
- Savasana should be used in conjunction with, not as a replacement for, standard medical and therapeutic procedures.
How to practice Savasana (Corpse Pose):
- Set a timer for the duration of your practice: 2 to 5 minutes; up to 30 minutes if you have the time.
- Lie on the floor on a yoga mat or blanket. You can place a bolster or pillow beneath your knees for extra low back support.
- Close your eyes.
- Adjust your position so your body is in a straight line from your tailbone to the crown of your head. This may take some wiggling. Wiggle until your spine is straight.
- Rest your arms alongside your body, with your hands about eight inches outside of your body. Turn your palms up.
- Let your feet drop open about eight inches apart. Feel your bones sink into the mat. As you allow your pelvic cavity to relax, your feet might drop open even further. Let them.
- Breathe naturally. Do not force your breath or try to control it.
- Relax your face, jaw, and tongue. Let your eyes drop deeply into their sockets.
- Let peace and stillness wash over and through you.
- Completely let go.
- When your alarm goes off, gently roll to one side and take a few deep breaths. Then, gently press yourself up into a seated position. Take a few deep breaths of transition, and open your eyes.
Questions for readers:
Do you practice Savasana outside of your yoga class?
Do you have any other tips for deep relaxation?