Savasana is also called the ‘king pose’ of all asanas. It’s said to be the most important pose in yoga.
Many of us do have like a love-hate relationship with Savasana: From the outside, it looks like Savasana is nothing more than a well-deserved resting pose in the end of a yoga practice. We’re entering a moment where sweat starts to dry, where the heartbeat slows down, where muscles are getting tired due to heaps of sun salutations, high planks and downward facing dogs.
Then, our practice comes to an end. We are entering Savasana. It all seems so easy but yet so many of us struggle with the final pose in yoga, named as corpse pose or Savasana.
Lying still for a few minutes after a yoga class full of asanas – for many students it’s the easiest and hardest part at once.
Why is Savasana so hard to practice for many of us?
As soon as we enter Savasana, closing our eyes and trying to be still for a moment, our thoughts are kicking in with all power. Instead of being present in the moment, our brain is getting really creative in keeping us busy and distracting us from finding stillness.
Of course, there are so many things to be concerned about in Savasana. Thoughts are coming up like ‘I can’t wait to finally having my breakfast. I feel like I’m starving’. Then we judge ourselves thinking ‘why didn’t I reach the floor with my whole palm in this practice?’, or getting upset with things happening around us like ‘why is the breath of my neighbor so noisy?’, or ‘why is that little fly tickling my face now?’
Whatever it is… Our mind gets creative when it is supposed to be still. We feel stuck in a feedback loop of thoughts and judgement. And this is one of the main reasons why most of us struggle with Savasana.
How I discovered my Love for Savasana
Too often, I asked myself at the end of each class: ’Why do I need Savasana?’ I followed the instructions of my teacher because I didn’t want to refuse. All the other students in the yoga shala seemed like they were lying on their mats in serenity. And of course, I didn’t want to be the only one leaving the room, frustrated of not being able to survive those last ten minutes. But to be honest, I thought Savasana was useless. And as it was just part of the practice I surrendered to it and did what I have been asked to do.
To surrender was the one thing that I needed to learn. In Savasana, we are doing nothing from the outside. But just because it’s not visible, it doesn’t mean there is no deep work going on.
What I had to learn over time is that life isn’t just movement, strength, exercise, excitement and action. As in traditional Chinese Medicine, for every Yang side there is a Yin. For every motion, there is stillness. For every hold, there is release. For every fight, there is surrender. And for every life, there is death. This is where Savasana joins the game.
In Savasana, our practice comes to an end. It literally dies. We enter a state of surrendering, of finding relaxation, stillness and ease. Savasana provides a space for us to be still and lets our body process all the work that has been going on just a few minutes ago.
Being still for a moment allows our system to Integrate those information in order to make change and transformation happen.
How to practice Savasana?
In Savasana, there is no need to achieve something. On the contrary – the only thing you are meant to do here is to be present. It doesn’t mean you’re supposed to fall asleep. On the contrary – Savasana is there to be fully present in the moment.
To help you with Savasana, I’ve put together a few tips on how to keep your presence and how to tune into your body.
One method that helps you to stay in the present moment is to focus on your breath. Notice the air flowing in and out. Feel how your ribcage is lifting with every inhale and how your chest is lowering down with every exhale. Observe how it rejuvenates your mind, body and soul. Guide the air throughout your body: imagine how the fresh oxygen is being transported into your lungs, your blood vessels, and into your cells.
2. Focus on Sensations
Once you closed your eyes and found your stillness, start noticing what is happening in your body. Do you feel any heat, tingling, softness, ease or just liveliness?
Feel into those positive sensations and give them space to expand by paying attention to them. Feel them taking over your whole body and stay with that feeling for a while.
Intuitively choose an area or a muscle in your body which feels tight and calls for relaxation. It can be your shoulders, your neck or the space between your eyebrows for example.
Focus on that point and start guiding your breath into this area. With every inhale, expand the contracted muscles and with every exhale let go a little more: allow your shoulders or your neck to sink a bit deeper towards the ground while you’re breathing out. Allow the space between your eyebrows to become wider and soft.
Final Relaxation in Savasana – Benefits of corpse pose
Savasana complements the Yang part of our yoga practice with Yin. Without Savasana, our yoga practice wasn’t complete. Together, it represents the life circle of extension and compression, of inhaling and exhaling, of life and death. Savasana is the death of our practice, and gives space to what comes after.
I wish you a beautiful Savasana for your next yoga class.
Feel like you’re ready to make the next step in your yoga journey? We offer 200 hr Yoga Alliance certified Vinyasa & Yin Yoga teacher trainings on the beautiful island of Bali. Find out more about our upcoming dates here.
Marie Heintges is a yogi, writer and health passionate. She did her Yoga Teacher Training in Bali with Inner Yoga Training in May 2018.