Ahhhh, Savasana…..or argh! Savasana?! What can be the easiest pose for some can also be the hardest for others, but it’s one of the most important parts of your yoga practice.
Savasana (pronounced sha-vahs-uh-nuh) quite literally means “Corpse Pose”. It sounds a little morbid, but it symbolizes something beautiful: the dying of the practice behind you, and a “rebirth” of your body, refreshed and renewed after some time in stillness.
Savasana is a sacred time during your yoga practice to connect with your inner and most authentic self.
As you lay yourself out on the mat to relax at the end of class, some important things begin to happen to your body and mind. The benefits of Savasana are plentiful; here are a top few:
- Your central nervous system calms down.
Your sympathetic nervous system (“fight or flight” response) relaxes and your parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest” response) kicks in. This helps to reduce stress, supports your immune system, and calms your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Your body has a chance to integrate all the benefits of your yoga practice.
Yoga gives us an opportunity to use our bodies in ways that contrast our daily patterns of movement and posture. Taking Savasana is like pressing the “update” button on your computer: it takes a few minutes to reset, but it functions better after some recalibration!
- A quiet body helps to quiet the mind.
Yoga is about more than the shape of the body, it’s about the shape of your mind too. Savasana is a sacred time during your yoga practice to connect with your inner and most authentic self. In conscious relaxation, there is an opportunity to get in touch with your center and let everything else fall away. This is where Savasana can also be the most difficult pose of all: when your monkey-mind just won’t stop bouncing from thought to thought, laying still might be more of a challenge than a treat. Like everything in life, it takes practice: be patient and try your best!
Taking Savasana is like pressing the “update” button on your computer: it takes a few minutes to reset, but functions better after some recalibration!
3 Different Ways to Try Savasana
Traditionally, Savasana is practiced laying down flat on the back, with arms and legs out long in a neutral position. Ultimately, you want to be as comfortable as possible so that you can relax fully: try adding some props to enhance your experience! You can think of setting up for this pose as if you’re making a nest to get comfy and cozy.
Bolster Under Knees
Gentle support under the legs can further relax any tension in your lower back and help your spine lay flat on the ground. This is also a wonderful solution for those recovering from knee injuries.
Neck Support with Rolled Towel
If you feel tension in your neck, throat or jaw, try rolling up the end of a blanket or a small towel and place it in the curve of your cervical spine, right under the skull. You can play with the thickness of the roll to find the size that fits your body best.
Cover with a Blanket
Getting cozy under a blanket will not only help you stay warm and encourage your muscles to relax further, but its weight can stimulate the production of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin, reduce the stress hormone cortisol, and help soothe anxiety.
Bonus: try all three variations together for a most luxurious experience!
After you’ve had several minutes of relaxation (10 minutes is ideal!), give yourself time to come back to alertness slowly. Start by wiggling fingers and toes, and gradually move into a full body stretch. Move with care as you sit back up: how you exit Savasana can set a tone for the rest of your day or evening. Thank yourself for taking the time to restore and re-center: you’ll be glad you did!
What’s your favorite way to practice Savasana? Let us know in the comments!