You’ve been working through your yoga class, and the instructor guides you to come into Savasana. Is there a more wonderful feeling in the world at that moment? Besides the overall sense of complete relaxation this pose fosters, there’s a lot more to it. Keep reading for more about this essential pose that should always be a part of your yoga practice – or any exercise session!
Savasana (pronounced “shah-VAH-sah-nah”) means “corpse pose” in Sanskrit. While this elicits a somewhat morbid connotation in modern life, its name really implies the objective of the pose: complete stillness.
Savasana is traditionally performed at the very end of a yoga practice session (but that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case.) It’s done by lying on your back, fully relaxing the arms and legs – the feet fall open, and the arms rest at the sides of the body with the palms turned up. But as with all yoga poses, there are plenty of modifications to make the pose most accessible to each person (see below).
Once in Savasana, imagine your limbs are very heavy, or “melting” into the floor. Keep your eyes closed, and simply breath normally. Notice if you’re holding any tension anywhere, such as your forehead, your jaw, your shoulders. Relax completely, and bring your mind to focus on your breath. This isn’t the time to start making a shopping list in your head, or thinking about all the things you still have to do before dinner! Instead, this is time for your body to absorb all the benefits of the work you just completed, and release all remaining tension from both mind and muscles.
The most important aspect of Savasana is comfort, so do modify the pose in whatever way helps with this. For example, you might:
- Use a pillow, folded blanket, or yoga block to support your head and neck
- Cover your shoulders with a jacket or blanket
- Place a bolster or rolled-up blanket under your knees to release tension on your low back
- Bend your knees and have your feet on the floor
If you’re pregnant, it’s important not to lie flat on your back, so perform Savasana while lying on your side. Bend your top knee and rest it on a pillow, bolster, or rolled up blanket next to you.
Savasana has many benefits, besides just feeling good at the end of your practice. For one, it rejuvenates the body, mind and spirit. It can also reduce headaches, fatigue, and insomnia, and helps to lower blood pressure. Savasana isn’t just for yoga sessions though! I like to encourage my personal training clients to come into the pose for several minutes after their workout, as the final part of their cool-down after stretching. It makes for a perfect transition from exercise back to the rush of daily life, providing a few moments of quiet and stillness in the body and mind that’s so beneficial for all of us.