Lying on your back on the floor with eyes closed might not seem like an advanced yoga pose, but it is, and it should not be ignored. Savasana, or corpse pose in English, is how most classes end, and what a good ending it is. Dim lights, bundle up, and get comfy, cover the eyes, and just be. Students have asked me if it’s ok to skip Savasana and just jump back into their day; my answer to this question is no.
Here’s why Savasana should not be skipped:
- Absorb All the Goodness – After the challenging work of a vinyasa flow class, or after long holds in a restorative class, Savasana gives your body and mind the opportunity to soak it all in.
- You Deserve a Rest – Nap time ended long ago for most of us and we rarely allow ourselves the gift of just taking a break. A yoga class might seem like the only break you need, so why not just get on with they day, right? Wrong – let yourself have a few minutes of quiet before rolling up your mat.
- Still Your Mind – During a yoga practice the goal is to focus on the breath and movement, but how many of us find our minds wandering to thoughts of dinner, wondering how our poses look, or to the song playing in the car that’s driving by, “Wait, is that Miley Cyrus? I like Miley Cyrus.” Focusing, in other words not being distracted, is a little bit easier in Savasana, since by closing your eyes you shut out the outside world; you let your body lie still as can be, and you let go of even the controlled breath, of the practice. Don’t fidget and try not to sleep. Be sure to be as comfortable as can be before totally letting go. It will be hard at first and maybe for a long time to follow (it took me years to relax in Savasana fully, and there are days when I still struggle,) but try your best to still your mind along with the body. Thoughts will come, but just let them go, do not hold on.
How To Do Savasna:
- Make your way to seated. Bring your feet in front of you, firmly planted to the mat with your knees pointing up to the sky. Hold behind your knees for support raise your arms out in front of you, palms face each other. Slowly, roll back onto your back one vertebrae at a time. If this is difficult for you, then lower one elbow at a time down next to, and slightly behind you, to begin the rolling of your spine on your mat. Then gently lower your entire back onto the mat behind you.
- Extend your legs out in front of your body down onto your mat. Allow your feet to splay to either side of the mat naturally, toes, feet and ankles relaxed. If you feel any tension in your low back, place your feet flat on the mat (knees point up to the sky,) apply gentle pressure through the feet, and lift your bottom up and off of the floor, think of rolling your pelvis out and down towards your feet. Place your lower body back onto the mat. This should give you more length in the low back.
- Rest your arms out by your side at an angle, not right next to your body, but a bit away. Flip your palms up to the ceiling; this rolls your shoulder blades down your back. Be very relaxed and let your fingers curl ever so slightly inward towards your palms. Adjust the shoulders until you are perfectly comfortable. There should be no fidgeting after you have found your perfect pose. Keep your eyes closed through the entirety of the pose and keep them closed as the teacher brings you to the end of the class until instructed to open them. Placing an eye pillow on your eyes will block any and all light and is a relaxing touch.
It seems like Savasana should be an easy pose, but easy it is not. We are so used to multitasking and filling our schedules that we constantly think about what did or didn’t get done and what has yet to be accomplished. All of this thinking can get overwhelming and lead to anxiety, worry, or stress. By calming the mind we give ourselves a little break. It is inevitable that when you first begin to practice Savasana that you will either A) fall asleep – that’s ok, your body might really need it! or B) continue to think, but keep practicing and it will get easier. Savasana is a yoga pose that requires practice to improve.
May you delight in your practice and destress in your Savasana.