Savasana, the corpse pose, an alien concept to anyone who is new to Yoga and a practice that takes a lot more commitment than we think .
If you are new to Yoga you may have come across the relaxation practice at the end of an hour of stretching and breathing commonly known as Savasana. Savasana comes from the Sanskrit word Shava= corps/dead body and Asana = pose or seat. You will often hear that this seemingly simple pose is the most important part of the practice so why do we spend so little time in it?
The modern Western Yoga practice is very much influenced by our Yang way of living where emphasis is put upon the most physical and active side of Yoga rather that the more subtle,quiet side of it, and so we end up dedicating just a few minutes to this powerful experience but there are several valid reasons to expand and lengthen the time we spend lying in this pose .
1. Active relaxation promotes mental and physical well-being : practised regularly, shavasana has been shown to help relieve mild depression, high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, and insomnia.
2. The physical part of practice can be demanding on the body, shavasana allows the body to restore balance by allowing the cooling and relaxing of the muscles. Lying on the floor makes this pose safe to close your eyes and really focus on each individual part of the body truly seeking to actively relax and release habitual and chronic tension.
3. During Shavasana you are give the rare opportunity to check on your stress levels and to learn to analyse the reasons for your stress bringing things more into perspective, unravelling the threads of the daily dramas we build in our mind.
4. Savasana changes your physiology: allowing the body to rest whilst awake , focusing on creating space for deep undisturbed and natural breaths, silence,these are all things that can help us tap into our rest and digest system, lowering the stress hormones levels and facilitating the release of relaxation hormones.
Despite all these great well known benefits, it can sometimes be difficult or uncomfortable to just lie there for even a few minutes so here are some tips for a succesful Savasana:
Take your time to set up the pose like you would for any other pose : adjust your clothes to the time of year ( socks,a jumper and a blanket can make a huge difference to your comfort in Winter), use a thin cushion underneath your head, if available use a bolster under your knees.
Settle into stillness using a cleansing breath, breathing deeply in and then letting a long sigh out through the mouth focusing on the softening of the abdomen , then breath normally. Repeat as many times as you need to.
Begin from your body : scan the body , get to know the body, befriend the body, this is your chance to understand why your head feels heavy or why your lower back aches. Often during Shavasana you realise how tense certain parts of the body are, in constant tension... and this is where you can learn and practice Letting Go ... If you find it difficult try contracting the muscles first and then releasing them
If you are very tired and you think you may fall asleep make your relaxation more active by lifting one of your arms up ( the elbow stays on the ground), should you fall asleep the falling arm will wake you up.
Take time to notice the flow of your breath and the river of your thoughts, Savasana is a window into our busy mind, it is our chance to realise that our entire world is created in our minds, the chance to observe this inner world with compassionate, non-judgemental eyes.
This is also a time to plant new seeds through intention setting . The quiet space created by Savasana is the ideal space to lay foundations for positive changes within ourselves and our lives. Through the introspective nature of this practice we get to know our thinking patterns, our habits and we get space to set resolves and intentions that can improve our lives and the lives of others.
All Cherry Yoga classes include time for relaxation, come and try one out , classes are back on from the 2nd September!
As for all other poses , Savasana requires practice and patience, some days the practice is easy and effective , other days it can be uncomfortable and ineffective and it is in those days that we learn that even when things are not as we want them to be, when things are not perfect, the experience is teaching us something about ourselves that we did not know before and in the process bringing us closer to our true selves.
May you enjoy your many savasanas to come - Namaste !