Just Here For The Savasana
So, to coin a phrase from the world we live in, what can you do if you need a full reboot? After all, when your computer is playing up and not working as you want it to, you switch it off, wait a few minutes while it reboots and when it comes on again you’ll often see greater, speedier functionality.
And you can do the same with Savasana, otherwise known as Corpse pose – the lying down pose that’s usually the last posture in a Yoga class.
But it’s not just lying down; it’s not just filling the time until the end of the class.
Savasana is commonly thought of as the easiest pose to do but the hardest to master. It’s a conscious pose in which you’re fully awake but totally relaxed – easier said than done! After all, while you may be good at bending, balancing and twisting, it’s a real skill to be able to completely relax on demand, and it takes practice just like the rest of your Yoga poses.
Savasana is all about total surrender and is your opportunity to practice both ahimsa (non-harming) and aparigraha (non-grasping), allowing you to release tension, let go of any self judgment and just be.
To perform Savasana, simply lie on your back with your arms and legs extended slightly out from your body, palms facing upwards – if this hurts your lower back, add a bolster or a pillow behind your knees or have your feet on the floor with your knees bent. Then close your eyes and breathe naturally, watching the ebb and flow of your breath in and out through your nostrils, following the flow of breath in and out of your body. Feel the weight of the floor beneath you and allow yourself to sink into it, releasing tension, holding in the muscles and giving the weight of the body down into the ground. Relax all the muscles of your face, relax your mind and your whole body, paying particular attention to releasing tension in your shoulders, jaw and hips and allowing your eyes to sink back, soften and quieten. And then just stay there for ten to 20 minutes, although if you’re short of time even a few minutes can be very beneficial.
It’s known to help with mild depression, high blood pressure, anxiety, chronic tiredness, headaches and trouble sleeping by calming the sympathetic nervous system and bringing a sense of stillness to the whole body.
In the fast paced world we live in, Savasana is more valuable than it’s ever been. Learning to do nothing is a skill that’s not often encouraged, but Savasana brings a deep sense of rest, releases tension and stress, helps repair the body and leaves you feeling rejuvenated. Ultimately, allowing you to stop fighting the clock, make space and be more productive when you need to be.
And Savasana is also an excellent way to ground the body and reduce any Vata dosha imbalance in the body.
Possibly because while your body may be willing – it’s feeling tired now due to your busy schedule and your asana practice – your mind can get in the way.
That is your monkey mind: “What shall I have for dinner? How long is she going to make us lie here? I mustn’t fall asleep. What if I snore?” and so it goes on, and on, and on… moving around into past and future thinking.
It’s normal for our bodies to resist deep relaxation. However, the old adage holds true: practice makes perfect. Practice, practice, practice and you’ll start to surrender into the pose more easily. It is a bit like unpeeling an onion; an onion of relaxation. Once you begin to actively practice relaxing, the layers of holding start to reveal themselves and then you can go deeper and deeper into them to release and let them go, then new layers appear, and so we go on with new layers revealing themselves all the time.
Make yourself comfortable – a fidgety body won’t be able to relax. Stretch out on your mat, maybe place a pillow under your head or a bolster under your knees and if your eyes are restless, try an eye pillow or rolled up towel – whatever is comfortable for you. If you suffer from headaches, a bandage eye wrap works really well to keep out the light. And to help you draw in, think warm, dark, quiet and still.
Follow the rhythmic flow of your breathing as a route into deeper stillness, paying particular attention to the exhalation; inviting the exhalation to bring you deeper into stillness and rest. Take some nice full cleansing breaths, audibly exhaling with sound to let your body know it’s time to release into the pose.
Scan your body for tension, paying particular attention to the tighter areas for you, which are often the jaw, temples, shoulders and hips. As you scan around your body, you can consciously think about relaxing each tight muscle, one at a time and letting that area yield into the support of the ground or bolsters/pillows. If this is a struggle, make sure that the poses within your previous practice are effective in stretching and opening your problem areas, making tweaks to your sequence if necessary to see if that makes a difference.
Now just notice the sensations in your body, remaining still and at ease and trusting that your breath will carry you from one moment to the next.
Acknowledge any thoughts as they come into your head and let them go, noticing the moments of quiet between each thought – a nice mantra I use is “How human of me to think that”. I can then acknowledge the thought but then let it pass by. With practice, you’ll find these peaceful moments will get longer and you’ll find more inner calm.
Set an intention before you come out of Savasana. With an inner smile, ask yourself what you want to take from your practice and what you want to leave behind. Savasana in and of itself helps us to do this anyway; it provides space for us to integrate the learnings from our practice, providing the still space we need to more fully embody the lessons we have learned from our mat. It also gives space for us to let go of, or at the very least let be, those things that are no longer serving us. We can also reflect here on the juicy/challenging parts of our practice that day and what lessons they held for us that we might be able to take into our lives.
And then when you’re ready to come out of the pose, take a few deep breaths, become aware again of the ground and the room, slowly moving your fingers and toes and allowing yourself a few moments to become aware of where you are and notice how you feel – hopefully more rested, more awake and more alive than you did before.
I specialise in working with women one to one and enjoy being part of their journey of reconnection and self-discovery. I support women to find more balance and harmony in their lives by deepening their inner connection to their own body’s needs, helping them cope pre-conception, with fertility issues, prenatally, postnatally or during times of transition, grief or loss and helping alleviate the symptoms of menstruation, perimenopause or menopause.
I use the incredible healing, calming, strengthening and restorative power of yoga to help you find the balance you need, no matter what stage of life you’re at. I couple this with Mizan massage, belly binding, birth preparation and doula services to support you as needed.