Savasana, (pronounced sha-vasana) also known as corpse pose, is typically the last posture in any yoga class. Savasana looks like the easiest pose, lying flat on your back, feet are hip width apart or wider, with arms resting gently by your sides. Palms usually face up to receive, but can also face down. It all looks and sounds simple, but can actually be one of the most difficult postures.
As instructors, we ask you to just lie there. We will suggest that you close your eyes, loosen your jaw, and become aware of your natural breath. Sometimes we suggest props, put lavender pillows over your eyes and cover you with yoga blankets. Eventually we will stop talking, leaving you quietly to rest. This can be the most difficult part of all. For some, the silence and lack of movement of Savasana can bring up anxiety. When that happens we may begin to mentally solidify our To-do list or dinner plans. We may fidget, start coughing or worse, we may skip out on Savasana, grab our stuff and leave. Savasana is definitely not for sissies.
If any version of what I just mentioned has ever happened to you, I want you to know that it is quite common. We spend our days going as hard as we can, doing as much as we can. Often, we inappropriately celebrate busy-ness and strive to fill our plates with more than we can chew. It’s no wonder that when asked to lie there quietly, even for only five or ten minutes our natural response could be to freak out.
Savasana is a critical component of our yoga practice. It is so much more than just a few minutes reward after your flow class. In this state of quietude our body begins to repair itself. These brief moments of stillness are the ideal environment for our body to restore our cells, oxygenate our blood and calm our nervous system. It sends a loving message to your body and your mind. The five or ten minutes that you will spend in Savasana will be as beneficial if not more so, than the entire practice that preceded it. Yup, its pretty important.
So what can we do? How can we help ourselves to settle in and allow, to enjoy all of the benefits of our practice? Here are a few tips to help us all sink in and allow a restful experience in our next Savasana.
1. Count your breaths. Begin slowly counting each breath. On your inhale feel your belly rise and silently say “one”. On your exhale allow your belly to fall and silently say, “one”. Then, count the next inhale as “two” and exhale as “two”, continuing all the way to five, then begin again. Each time you realize your mind has wandered, start back at one.
2. Repeat a mantra to yourself. Each time you realize your mind has wandered, calmy and with love begin again, repeating the mantra.
Here are a few mantra suggestions:
I allow myself to relax fully and completely. I allow myself to relax fully and completely.
It is now okay for me to let go. It is now okay for me to let go.
My body and mind are at ease. My body and mind are at ease.
I easily and effortlessly enjoy all of my practice. I easily and effortlessly enjoy all of my practice.
3. Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself time to hone your new skill. The next time you are lying in Savasana and you realize that you are using this time to replay your last conversation with your spouse or co-worker, simply bring your thoughts back and start again. Every single time you do this you are exercising your meditation muscle which will continue to grow. In those moments when you catch yourself, be excited because each time you bring yourself back, your mediation muscles are getting bigger and you are going to be buff!
Remember that yoga is a practice. Every day will be different and each time you step on your mat you experience something new. Just by trying, you are a success. You are strong in body and mind and we support you.