Savasana, a place of deep serenity or an unnerving limbo? Even for experienced Yoga practitioners, troubles can arise whilst lying in this pose! When your mind is busy and your guard is up, this final posture can feel anything but relaxing - but with practice, the benefits of Savasana are plentiful. It may look like a post yoga nap but do not be fooled – this humble posture takes no prisoners!
What is Savasana?
Savasana literally means Corpse Pose. The still awareness experienced within this pose is practiced so we can learn to separate the spirit from the body. Letting go is an important part of Yogic tradition and many elements of the practice are designed to prepare us for death. Practicing Savasana takes us to the edge of our awareness, to the line between the realms, allowing us to feel our mortality and embrace being alive.
Corpse Pose is more than just an asana; it is an entire practice within itself. It is pure relaxation and focus – which is why it is so difficult to master and offers such incredible benefits. When practiced properly, you will feel completely relaxed yet entirely conscious. The journey to mastering such a transformational posture takes time, patience and a huge amount of self acceptance.
The Challenges of Savasana
When we arrive on our yoga mats, we are creating a space where we can connect to our inner worlds. Through the practice of physical asana, we delve into ourselves, bringing awareness into our physical bodies. With each breath we learn how to flow with life as it unfolds around us. Our energy cultivates within the body allowing us grow stronger and more flexible, mentally and emotionally. So, after an hour of practicing Yoga, you would think that we would have our minds in check? Nope – this is not always the case! Whilst the pose is easy to perform, it challenges the mind in many ways.
The journey to a well balanced and perfectly disciplined Savasana is a long long road with many psycho-spiritual bumps along the way. To remain alert in seated meditation is difficult enough, but to stay conscious when your body is tired and you are lying down with your eyes closed, is near enough impossible for beginners. All the elements for a much needed nap-time are there – and all that comes between you and your dreams (literally) is your self-discipline. Nobody would necessarily know whether you were practicing the pose effectively, it’s all on you to allow the posture to unfold.
When you have had a bad day or struggled to find peace in your practice, lying down in a quiet room full of strangers can make you feel self-conscious. When we are unable to settle in Savasana, we may fidget or keep our eyes open the whole time. In the early days, sometimes students refuse to close their eyes, and this is down to the vulnerable nature of the asana. You are exposed, to yourself internally and to others, externally. It is very common for students to fall asleep - we have all been brought back from the meditative realm at some point by a mid-Savasana snort! Sometimes people miss it all together, sneaking out of class before it begins. Whatever time constraints you face; it is essential to always make time for Savasana.
The Benefits of Savasana
The healing benefits of Savasana blossom when practiced daily. Once the energy channels in the body have been opened and you have allowed your body the freedom to release and let go, Savasana can transport you to other dimensions, taking you deep into a meditative state. The posture facilitates the re-balancing of energy within the body and mind, and between the male and female sides of the body. This creates the perfect environment for psycho-spiritual healing to occur.
It can take years of practice before you can thrive in this posture, but once you learn to master the art of relaxation, you will reap its rewards. Here are some of the benefits:
- Increased awareness of existence itself and our “current state of aliveness”
- Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing us to rest and digest.
- Calming of the brain, reducing symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression
- Full body relaxation, allowing the muscles, joints and fascia to unwind
- Exploration of the fifth limb, Pratyahara, through complete withdrawal of the senses
Coming to Life in Corpse Pose
if you are someone who struggles with Savasana and the intensity of the posture, take some time to practice within the comfort of your own home. Developing your focus and awareness alone will help to banish the anxieties that overwhelm you when practicing in a group. If you struggle to stay awake in Savasana, try eating lighter meals and practicing in the morning rather than the evening. This way your energy levels will be elevated and your practice will have the support it needs to go deeper.
Savasana at home
Whilst in Savasana, you are exploring the body from the inside out, taking yourself on a journey as you visit every physical and emotional part of you. There will be areas of your body which are unchartered and unexplored – seek these out and find out what dwells within them.
When practicing at home, focus your mind using a full body scan, moving up from your toes to your head. This will help you to maintain a level of focus whilst in the posture. Start by connecting to your breath and following the flow of prana through the body. Breath into each part of your body, bit by bit. Check in with each area – is there any discomfort? Is there any pain or soreness? Become reacquainted with your whole body - allowing your full awareness to tap into problematic areas to heal them.
Remember - It is okay to sway from focus, as long as you stay conscious! Resting easily in this pose whilst accessing your inner self is not easy! It is all a journey. Take a moment to think about your own experiences of Savasana...
Do you come alive in Corpse Pose or do you drift off to sleep?
Share your experiences in the comments below. I would love to hear from you!