Savasana is a weird pose. First it looks like a nap but it’s not, then we are asked to relax completely while lying down, but we’re not allowed to sleep – worst, we’re to remain fully conscious! Beyond this contradiction, Savasana is a key pose in the practice of yoga. In fact, I always say that if we refer to Sarvangasana (shoulderstand) and Sirshasana (headstand) as queen and king of all poses, then Savasana deserves to be God!
The list of benefits is endless. Some are well known like relieving mild depression, fatigue, high blood pressure. It also calms down the nervous system, alleviates muscles fatigue and promote deep relaxation in the body and in the mind. But wait there’s more.
Remember your first yoga class? Maybe you felt some anxiety; after all entering a class full of strangers who look like the national gymnastic team can be quite intimidating! But what’s for sure is that at the end of your practice (mid-point for me), you were exhausted, but felt relieved when you heard the teacher pronounce these magic words: “now please lie down on your back and relax in Savasana”.
“Lie down on my back and relax? well that’s easy” I thought. How wrong was I?! It has nothing easy about it, in fact, the corpse pose is to me the most difficult of all Asanas. It works at the most subtle level. One fundamental element in the practice of yoga is called Ishvara Pranidhana – meaning the act of surrendering (Pranidhana) to a higher source (Ishvara) as highlighted in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as the 5th Niyama. It is also a part of Kriya yoga, alonside tapas (discipline) and svadhyaya (self-study). It is this element that savasana taps.
Ishvara Pranidhana helps to dissolve the inexhaustible agitations of the mind and obstacles that our ego creates, which separate us from our natural state of being – clarity, grace, peace, freedom and unconditional love.
Through surrender the aspirant’s ego is effaced… and grace… pours down upon him like a torrential rain
Developing the ability to surrender is the essence of Savasana, but it requires practice, patience and determination. Many of us struggle with this pose, especially those that are new to yoga; there is no escape, no distraction when we’re lying down in Savasana, so we come face-to-face with our own fear and anxiety.
Savasana takes us directly to the present moment or if not, brings awareness that we are not in the present. Anxiety, restlessness and fear are some of the obstacles that surface and prevent us from getting the full benefits.
So here are 5 tips to improve your Savasana:
Begin With Savasana
Whether you woke up an hour ago, or you just came back from a long and stressful day at work doesn’t really matter, there is always tension somewhere. Why start with tensions that can be alleviated?
Instead of rushing with your practice, begin by lying down, turn your palms upward, close your eyes, and breath deeply. Scan your whole body for tensions and check your state of mind before starting with your practice; that’s another benefit of beginning with Savasana.
Make The Most Out Of It
It is already difficult enough to meditate in a seated position, so imagine when you’re doing the same thing while lying down – So easy for the mind to wander or become dull.
So before starting the process of scanning your body for tensions, make a strong intention in the mind to remain vigilant and alert throughout the practice. This daily commitment will go a long way in improving your Savasana.
If you’re extra busy it can become a real challenge to fit in a daily yoga routine. So sometimes you’re left with no choice but to shorten your practice. and you know what, that’s ok! But my advice is don’t cut down on your Savasana. This is an important pose that gives you the opportunity to learn to surrender; don’t miss that chance.
Believe In Your Self Healing Powers
Scanning the body part by part, using auto suggestion is a great tool to release tension. One way to do this is by mentally repeating the command 3 times in this way: “i’m relaxing my feet… I’m relaxing my feet… my feet are… relaxed” and then move up to the next body part.
Autosuggestion can be one of the most powerful tool only if you know how to use it; you have to use your own imagination and actually believe that it’s working. So have faith in your ability to command your body to relax, imagine as if each and every body part is listening and obeying your command.
Do Savasana As Many Times As Required
It took me a long time to understand that yoga is not only about doing, and pushing, and twisting… To me a good practice meant being completely exhausted by the end, with sweat dripping down the mat. now I’ve come to realise that it’s also about developing the ability to completely and efficiently let go after holding a pose. So my advise here is, alternate almost every pose with a quick Savasana – 5 to 10 deep breaths is usually enough to reset the body and mind before moving on to the next Asana.
Yoga is not a gym workout. Here we’re trying to avoid acid lactic build up at all cost, as it does more harm than good. By alternating contraction with relaxation, muscles become stronger in many ways not just in terms of strength.
Savasana helps us to develop the ability to let go in the midst of pressure and tension. Shift your focus more to the release side of things in your own practice and learn to let go quickly and efficiently after a pose; practicing this as often as possible on the mat will give you the capacity to overcome stress when you’re off.
Did you find this post useful? If you have any other tips or comments, please do share with us.
Prachi and I will continue to deepen our existing knowledge of each and every asana that we practice regularly, and share the information that we think may be useful to you. This is the first post of a series dedicated to the 12 basic Asanas that we practice daily as part of the Sivananda style that we follow. Coming soon, everything there is to know about Surya Namaskar, stay posted!