Savasansa is one of the most powerful poses in a yoga sequence- do you practice it?
When I was living on the West coast in the US, I regularly attended a hot yoga class. The classes were challenging due to the heat of the room and the heat of the body brought on by a set sequence of yoga poses. At the end of every class, dripping with sweat while simultaneously feeling relaxed, the teacher suggested savasana as the end pose. She would then leave the room, allowing us to take the time, or no time, if we preferred. After the teacher left, I was always surprised by the bustling of the students rushing out of class- on to the next thing, with no time in savasana. They left like it was a waste of time, an annoying afterthought that was cutting into a schedule. Something not worthy of their time. This always struck me as odd, as savasana can help you relax and restore, while at the same time challenge your ability to stay calm. It is a time to reflect, relax, and just be.
Savasana can be a difficult pose to relate to, often because we are not taught to just “be”. At least in most Western countries, and particularly in the US, we are taught to schedule ourselves to a fault, overwork, and always stay busy. It is ingrained in our psyche that stillness is not productive and therefore not necessary. This explained the students literally walking away from savasana, as well as the teacher’s option to avoid it in the first place. We believe that what looks like doing noting isn’t beneficial to us. We may even feel guilty for taking time out. But this is a misunderstanding of what savasana is and what it is meant to offer you in practice. To get the most out of savasana, we must understand what it is.
What is Savasana?
Savasana is derived from the Sanskrit word for “corpse” and “asana” meaning seat or conscious position. The purpose of the pose is to help relax the body, observe yourself, your thoughts and start to recognize your true self. The other dynamic poses and flows that preceded savasana in practice are meant to help prepare you to release, observe and learn. When I first started practicing yoga, it tickled me that laying down was part of a fitness regime. After practicing and studying yoga more in depth, I now I know that yoga is focused on multiple types of fitness, including mental, physical, and overall wellbeing. Some people have told me they are creeped out by calling savasana corpse pose, but I like to think of it as a way to go inward, appear “dead” to the outside world and realize that we are interconnected to things far beyond the limits of the physical body.
I once had a teacher that called savasana that most challenging pose. I believe this to be true-after all, how often do we sit with and observe ourselves? It is all about taking the time to explore and learn.
Tips to Explore Your Savasana
- To explore your savasana, lay down in a comfortable position, allowing the entire body to relax with the eyes closed.
- Notice the sensations in your body. Observe pulsations and rhythms that you feel as your body begins to rest and recover.
- Notice your thoughts. What are you thinking and feeling while in the pose? Notice if you feel frustrated and distracted, of if you are able to let yourself go. What is challenging? What comes easily?
- After observing your thoughts, allow yourself to relax and surrender, releasing the body completely into the mat. Sometimes, we don’t like asking for support, but in savasana, the ground is your biggest support that you must trust in. Focus your attention inward, and spend 5 to 20 minutes in the pose.
- After your savasana, gently “wake” yourself by adding small movements in the fingers, toes, and rest of the body. Gently roll to one side and sit up, only opening the eyes when you feel ready. Reflect on how the experience affected you, and take notes in a journal. Keep track of your observations of savasana, and explore what the pose means to your yoga practice and your life.
Savasana is a time to balance the busy with the calm, the rest with the action, and listen to your body, your mind, and what it needs. It has a lot to teach us, as long as we allow it to. So lay back, allow yourself to be, and see what happens.