Savasana – The Most Important Yoga Posture
By Beth Hartig
To the observer, Savasana or Corpse Pose looks easy. You’re just lying down as if you are sleeping right? Whilst Savasana requires complete relaxation of the body and mind, it’s in a way that is different to sleeping. You are relaxed, but alert and awake simultaneously.
How to do it
Lie down in a supine position on your mat, or on a firm surface.
Spread your feet apart, about the width of your mat, or a little further, allowing your pelvis to be evenly balanced.
Lengthen the spine and very slightly tilt the chin towards the chest, to lengthen the back of the neck.
Place the arms a comfortable distance from the body, palms facing up, relaxing the shoulder blades into the ground.
Make sure you feel evenly balanced and comfortable before you let yourself completely go into relaxation.
Let your natural breath come back to you.
Begin to feel your whole body sinking into the ground beneath you. Surrender to the earth. Let gravity take hold of you.
Mentally scan your body, from the toes all the way up to the top of the head. Stopping to mentally relax each part of the body.
Relax the head, and all the parts of the face.
Stay in this relaxing posture for at least 10 minutes.
Savasana is often described as being the most difficult of the yoga poses. It requires us to completely surrender, to let go of everything we are holding in the body, which isn’t easy. And it’s only when you turn your focus and attention inwards and mentally scan the body for tension that you begin to notice all that you have been holding on to.
For example, when I first started practicing Savasana, I noticed I was ‘holding’ the muscles around my hips and clenching my jaw. I hadn’t noticed until my teacher guided me, I had become so used to ‘holding on’ that I felt as if I was relaxed. I would also pinch my eyelids shut to close them, and needed to be reminded to relax them. It’s these tiny details that without a ‘body scan’, without complete awareness in the body and the intent to relax, can easily be over looked.
Often people feel that they can skip savasana; they have done the physical exercise of yoga, and don’t have time to relax. And this is often the biggest obstacle for us to overcome. Being able to relax in our own bodies is one of the most valuable things that yoga can teach us, and giving ourselves time in savasana after asana practice should be a necessity. If you are running short of time, take a few poses out of your asana practice and allow yourself to still have time in relaxation.
It is recommended to spend 10-15 minutes in savasana after asana practice. This gives the body time to reset itself and to integrate all of the movements of the practice into the body. It takes around 6 minutes for the brain to completely stop sending/receiving message to the muscles and for full relaxation to occur.
‘’When you first lie down most of the motor neurons that innervate the skeletal muscles are still firing nerve impulses, but your breathing gradually becomes even and regular, and the number of nerve impulses per second to your muscles starts to drop. If you are an expert in relaxation, within a minute or two the number of nerve impulses to the muscles of your hands and toes goes to zero. Then, within five minutes, the motor neuronal input to the muscles of your forearms, arms, legs and thighs diminishes and also approaches zero.’’
When we are in a fully relaxed state, the real magic can start to happen. The cells of the body have time to repair them selves. Our bodies get the time they need to heal. After savasana, you will feel relaxed and energized.
Treat yourself to a long savasana whenever you can, especially on the days when you don’t have the energy for an asana practice.
About the Author
Beth Hartig has recently completed her RYT200 at Trimurti Yoga, Dharamshala.
From the UK, but currently living in Cairns, Australia and teaching Hatha Yoga on Palm Cove beach.
Beth is dedicated to sharing the message of yoga with people from all walks of life, through classes and through her blog, believing yoga really is for everybody.