Regardless of whether a yoga practice is a gentle or a heart pounding one, it always ends with savasana or corpse pose. Savasana is a final resting pose of deep relaxation.
Corpse Pose: What’s in a Name?
“Savasana” (shah-VAHS-uh-nuh), comes from two words. The first is “sava” (meaning “corpse”) and the second is “asana” (meaning “pose”). Although “corpse” may sound creepy, this word represents one of life’s basic truths that nothing lasts forever, not even our lives; that one day, our breath will cease and this physical body returns back to the earth.
When we fully embrace the truth about impermanence, we come to appreciate the feeling of simply being here in the present moment — and what a gift this moment is! We let go of our trivial dramas and the endless mental chatter. Being here, right now, is significantly more important. We become extremely grateful for this present moment. The desire to fully experience our inner, quiet selves overrides everything else. We find simple joy in being here.
Lying like we were dead, while relaxing into the energy of being alive, makes us feel like coming back to life.
Although savasana may seem like an easy pose, it could be very tough to practice well. The pitfalls lie in one’s tendency to resume their repetitive mind chatter or fall asleep. To create an amazing experience:
Set up so you can fully relax on the ground. Remove any obstructions like pony tails, hats, or any part of your clothing that makes you feel uncomfortable lying down. Spread your legs and arms out wide. With your palms facing the sky, you rest in a position of gratitude, ready to receive the benefits of your practice.
Neutralize your breath while focusing on the sensations of the present moment – feeling every bone and muscle relax, starting from the head and progressively moving down to the throat, arms, torso, legs. Do this as slowly, carefully and mindfully as you can feeling the release of every muscle and tissue.
Feel the air against your skin, being aware of what’s around you but not being distracted by anything.
Be consciously still, releasing the mental chatter. Observe and feel the subtle sensations. Release the urge to think. Let go.
Surrender. Surrender fully into a state of presence.
When one practices savasana consistently, something amazing happens. They start viewing their lives with greater clarity and awareness. The body, mind, spirit connection is renewed, which then transforms oneself.
All That in Savasana?
Now you see the many benefits of savasana. When we cultivate the feeling of “letting go,” we become fully aware of the present moment and relax to what is. The physical body responds accordingly with decreased heart rate, decreased muscle tension, and lowered blood pressure.
The benefits also extend beyond the physical body. With greater awareness, one sees life more objectively, in a less self-centric way. This in turn reduces anxiety or nervous tension, creates clarity of thought, and renews our inner spirit with a desire to live life big and fully.
B.K.S. Iyenger, who helped introduce yoga to the western world, said, “Yoga not only changes the way we see things; it also transforms the person who sees.”
"Yoga not only changes the way we see things; it transforms the person who sees" - Iyengar.
So on your next yoga session, make your savasana really count. Experience fully receiving the benefits of your yoga practice!