Yoga

How To Do The Corpse Pose And What Are Its Benefits : Savasana

The final pose of any yoga class is one of deep restoration: Corpse Pose, also sometimes called Final Relaxation Pose. Its Sanskrit name, “Savasana” (shah-VAHS-uh-nuh), comes from two words. The first is “Sava” (meaning “corpse”), and the second is “asana” (meaning “pose”). Savasana implies a depth of release that goes beyond simple relaxation. This resting pose takes your yoga practice to a place where you can completely let go.

What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana

This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. Savasana is appropriate for all yoga students. If you are uncomfortable lying on your back, practice a supported version of the pose (see Modifications & Variations, below). Women who are pregnant should keep their head and chest raised in the pose by resting on a bolster or cushion.

Savasana
Savasana

How To Do The Savasana : Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Lie flat on the floor, ensuring that there will be no disturbance for the duration of the pose. Make sure you are comfortable, but don’t use any pillows or cushions. It will be best if you lie on a hard surface.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Place your legs such that they are comfortably apart. Make sure your legs relax completely and your toes are facing sidewards.

4. Your arms must be placed along your body and slightly apart, leaving your palms open and facing upwards.

5. Now, slowly draw attention to every area of your body, starting from your toes. As you do this, breathe slowly, yet deeply, setting your body in a state of deep relaxation. Do not fall asleep in the process.

6. Breathe slowly, yet deeply. This will impart complete relaxation. As you breathe in, your body will be energized, and as you breathe out, your body will calm down. Focus on yourself and your body, forgetting all other tasks. Let go and surrender! But make sure you don’t doze off.

7. In about 10 to 12 minutes, when your body feels relaxed and refreshed, roll to one side, keeping your eyes closed. Stay in the position for a minute, until you sit up in Sukhasana.

8. Take a few deep breaths and gain awareness of your surroundings before you open your eyes again.

Tips

The final relaxation portion of your practice is crucial. If you must leave class early, let your teacher know in advance, and take a short Savasana before you leave. In general, however, plan never to miss out on this pose. Take your time exiting the deep relaxation — doing so will help you keep the calm presence and focus throughout the rest of your day.

Beginner’s Tip

Often it’s difficult to release the heads of the thigh bones and soften the groins in this pose. This creates tension throughout the body and restricts the breath. Take two 10-pound sand bags and lay one across each top thigh, parallel to the crease of the groin. Then imagine that the heads of the thigh bones are sinking away from the weight, down into the floor.

Modifications & Variations

  • Usually Savasana is performed with the legs turned out. Sometimes though, after a practice session involving lots of outward rotation of the legs (as for standing poses), it feels good to do this pose with the legs turned in.
  • Take a strap and make a small loop. Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent and slip the loop over your big toes. Lie back and turn your thighs inward, sliding your heels apart. The loop will help maintain the inward turn of the legs.
  • To help release the brain and quiet the mind in Savasana, take a block and a 10-pound sand bag. After reclining on the floor, position the block on the floor above your head.
  • The block should sit on one of its sides (the height of the block should be about 5 inches), with one of its ends lightly touching your crown. Then lay the sand bag half on the block and half on your forehead. Scrub the forehead skin down, toward your eyebrows. Then let the brain sink away from this weight.

Benefits Of Shavasana

  1. Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
  2. Relaxes the body
  3. Reduces headache, fatigue, and insomnia
  4. Helps to lower blood pressure

Preparatory Poses

This asana should be done after you are done with all the active asanas and pranayamas.

Follow-up Poses

Follow up the Shavasana with the Sukhasana or the easy pose.

Practice Savasana at the end of every asana and pranayama session. You can also do Savasana on its own, in place of an afternoon nap or cup of coffee. As you practice Savasana regularly, see if you can tap into that deeply relaxed state of inner awareness during your regular day. Learning to access that peaceful, present state of consciousness in all situations is the key to bringing your yoga practice off the mat and into the rest of your life.

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