“Most difficult for students,” says Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, “not waking, not sleeping.”
Yoga is full of stretches, twists and challenging balances, but the best part is Savasana— when you lay on the floor and close your eyes. If you don’t know anything about Savasana in yoga, it just looks like a quick, post-yoga nap, but it’s much more than that.
'Savasana’ translates to Corpse Pose as it is the final resting pose of a practice and you lay still on the ground, similar to a corpse. Laying on the floor relaxing sounds pretty straightforward but Savasana can be one of the most challenging poses in yoga. In most yoga classes, Savasana lasts anywhere from five to 30 minutes and the aim is to not do anything but reap the benefits of relaxation.
Savasana is about being, not doing.
In a fast-paced society of constantly striving, Savasana offers a much needed reset to both the brain and body. It’s so important in yoga because it allows you to reap the benefits of your physical practice and take it inward. Letting go of the weight of your body, releasing the neverending stream of thoughts and allowing yourself to tap into what’s going on inside—this is what’s at the heart of Corpse pose. It’s common to fall asleep during Savasana but the goal is to stay awake and enter a heightened state of awareness. In this state, your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in and your brain reaches theta and alpha brainwaves, creating a waking dream state.
The National Journal of Basic Medical Sciences found that practicing Savasana regularly results in dominance of the parasympathetic nervous system which slows heart rate and decreases blood pressure, thereby reducing stress. This means that the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for fight or flight) is calmed, which helps reduce anxiety and depression. Similarly, a 2014 study by Medical Express found that Savasana could be a non-drug treatment option for hypertension.
Savasana teaches students self awareness and the art of true relaxation. Savasana in yoga is a time to leave everything on the mat—including the tension in your body, your worries and your focus. The more you practice Savasana, the deeper you go into a state of both heightened awareness and complete relaxation.
Many yoga students find it challenging to turn off their brain and bodily discomfort during Savasana. Savasana is a practice and the more you do it, the easier it will be, but these tips will help you along your journey
Some yoga practitioners have a hard time getting comfortable during Savasana, which is where props come in. There are endless modifications to make Savasana more comfortable and restorative, but the most common are:
Try to imagine making yourself as heavy as possible, as if your body is melting into the floor. Completely let go of all your body weight so you can’t possibly relax your muscles anymore. Check to see if you are holding tension in your ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, jaw and between your eyebrows.
When it comes to Corpse pose yoga, be kind to yourself. Going deep into Savasana takes time and consistent practice. And remember, you don’t have to be in a yoga class to take Savasana. Roll out your mat at home and put on calming music, like the Deep Sleep playlist on Spotify. Set a timer for 30 minutes and focus on your breathing and just being.