The most important pose in your yoga practice is Savasana (shah-VAHS-anna), derived from sava, the sanskrit word for “dead body.” Today we call it corpse pose. It is the easiest of yoga’s positions, physically speaking. Rather than twisting and stretching, students simply lie on their backs, taking as much or little space as they would like and let the body go limp. Relaxing completely. In this state of repose, students relax their muscles as much as possible, entering a condition of deep rest. It is usually done at the end of class and seems to have been around for centuries.
The “Hatha Yoga Pradipika”—one of the ancient yogic texts that has guided students for centuries—sums up the pose beautifully:
“Lying flat on the ground with the face upwards, in the manner of a dead body, is shavasana. It removes tiredness and enables the mind (and whole body) to relax.” – Chapter 1, Verse 32
Despite savasana being the easiest physical pose in yoga I find it to be one of the most challenging asanas for a lot my students. Yes, more challenging than balancing on just your hands or twisting yourself into a pretzel. I have observed that savasana can be the most difficult pose for a lot of practitioners.
I find once I start to guide the students into the stillness and relaxation of savasana that many of my students tend to do the opposite—fidgeting and scratching, and, at worst, make a dash for the exit. It’s easy to feel very vulnerable lying still on the floor for 5-10 minutes. Unfortunately, students that decide to not participate in the final posture are missing out on the most important part of a yoga practice.
Simply by lying still, we do the body good. A few physiological benefits of the deep relaxation of savasana include: a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, metabolic rate, and fatigue; an increase in energy levels and general productivity; an increase in focus, concentration and memory and a reduction in general anxiety.
In savasana your body, mind, and spirit have the chance to symphonize the actions, instructions, sensations, and emotions that you experience in class. Savasana gives you the opportunity to integrate your experiences from practice so that you can carry this calm, heightened sense of awareness into every situation that you encounter off the mat.
Corpse pose is where you get the chance to do absolutely nothing and receive everything from your practice. This quiet, humble pose can bring you closest to the true spirit and goal of yoga—the realization that you are part of something larger than your individual self.
For 10 minutes of final relaxation check out any of our Kunga classes on the schedule here at Wilmington Yoga Center
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