You might not have assumed that one of the easiest poses in all of Yoga to physically do – savasana (corpse pose, almost everyone’s favorite), is actually one of the most essential poses, and also, one of the hardest to master.
Savasana requires very little physical strength and flexibility, but the challenge it presents to the mind, and even the body, cannot be overstated. This is a pose that allows the practitioner to mindfully become aware of his or her own individual and natural breathing patterns, which is a great first step to mindful bodily awareness without needing to exert much physical effort.
As a teacher, it’s a great idea to find ways to limit stimulation during savasana. But even during our own home practices, removing external distractions, as best we can, can help us to relax more fully into our savasana to receive the most of what it has to offer.
According to DOYOUYOGA.com,
“Practice will increase body awareness and interoception. Interoception is insight on the physiological condition of the body and is associated with the autonomic nervous system and autonomic motor control. The autonomic nervous system is in control of the normally unconscious and automatic bodily functions like breathing, the heartbeat, and the digestive processes.
Interoception is also linked to the formation of subjective feeling states. In summary, practicing Savasana may increase the ability to notice things like the body’s breathing and heartbeat as well as form calmer and more relaxed feeling states.”
Due to this increase in interoception, some practitioners may find a link to decreased stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as a calmer mind, less fatigue, lower blood pressure, relief for headache pain, and even improved sleep.
On top of all of that, the meditative state practiced in savasana has also been scientifically shown to slow beta brain waves (associated with cognitive tasks and the “outside world” so to speak) and make room for more alpha and theta brain waves, which are associated with things such as creativity.
Physically speaking, savasana encourages a conscious relaxation of muscular and skeletal tension. When given its time to do its work, savasana melts away surface level tension in the muscles, allowing the deeper layers of stress to be exposed.
There is, understandably, a range in recommended or encouraged length for a savasana practice, some suggesting a minimum of six minutes for every hour of practice. Others suggest mid-practice breaks for savasana for every 30 minutes of asana practice.
Grounding in this pose can be difficult at first, but here is a helpful hint from Ling Beisecker, RYT200:
“To help you ground better in Savasana, you can practice it in combination with pranayama and mantra practice. For example, counting down from 10, “I am breathing in 10, I am breathing out 10, I am breathing in 9, I am breathing out 9…,” or reciting a mantra, “I am grounded, I am relaxed, I am grounded, I am relaxed…,”“
But, just as yoga is as much of a spiritual practice as it is a mental and physical practice, there are also spiritual benefits we can expect from savasana.
Savasanas spiritual benefits expand on its mental ones, by opening the door to exploring pratyahara, the fifth limb of yoga. Simply put, pratyahara is withdrawing from the senses and gaining mastery over external influences.
This is an incredibly difficult and complex discipline to practice, however, making savasana one of the hardest poses in yoga to truly master.
What’s your favorite part of savasana? In what ways have you benefited from practicing it?