Coping with stress is a daily struggle. From money to relationships to work responsibilities, there always seems to be something to worry about. Luckily, there are simple techniques that can help you master your daily stressors, like the yoga pose. savasana.
During savasana, you allow yourself to lie down calmly, releasing tension throughout your body, one exhale at a time. When we calm the mind and body, we experience a euphoric sense of well-being and a release from stress.
What is Savasana (Corpse Pose)?
Savasana is a pose that can help balance the breath, body, and mind, and it helps calm you down. In Sanskrit, this translates to “corpse posture”. In fact, when the word is broken down, knew means corpse, and asanas means to pose.
In The key yoga poses, author Ray Long, MD, FRCSC, mentions that corpse pose signifies the end of a yogic cycle. A typical cycle involves heating the body through asanasactivating the parasympathetic nervous system through the work of breathing, and finally cooling the body for deep relaxation – savasana.
“We do incredible work on both the body and the breath with asanas And pranayama in our yoga classes, and I would say savasana is the training of the mind,” says Katrina Suhre 500-RYT at CorePower Yoga. “This is the pose of the spirit.”
How to do Savasana
Physically, savasana is quite simple – you just lie there! But mentally, the pose is more difficult. While this pose can be performed with your body positioned in a number of ways, here are some tips for doing it in its most common form: lying down.
Note: Before jumping straight into savasana, we recommend that you complete a series of poses to tire out the body and prepare your mind for rest.
- Lie on your back with your arms straight at your sides and your legs straight. Lengthen your spine.
- Turn your palms towards the ceiling. Let your legs open so that your little toes fall towards your mat.
- Relax your body by flexing your muscles one at a time. Notice your breath, but don’t control it – let it flow naturally.
- Allow your senses to withdraw from the outside world. Dive deeper into a meditative state by letting your breath slow down.
- Lie down quietly until your mind and body are ready to move on.
Savasana lets you relax, but you need to limit distractions.
“Keep your mind busy, but focused. If your mind continues to function, try focusing on a specific part of your body, such as your nostrils. Feel each breath as it enters the nasal passages,” suggests Suhre. “Your mind will wander because you are human; redirect it with love and kindness.
And remember, the more you practice savasana, the easier it becomes to rely on your body to tell you when it’s time to come out of the pose.
Modifications for Savasana
If you cannot relax in the position described above, here are some suggestions to make savasana more comfortable for an extended period of time:
1. If you have knee strain
Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor.
2. If you are pregnant
Depending on where you are in your pregnancy, you may find it more comfortable to sit – sukhasana (or easy pose) is a good option here. For more support, stand with your back against a wall.
3. If you have breathing problems
Elevate your chest with a bolster. A bolster can help expand your rib cage, leaving more room for your lungs to expand.
4. If you’re just not comfortable
Use props! Ask your yoga instructor for guidance on how to position yourself for optimal comfort.
“One of my favorite ways to practice a long savasana is with a bolster under my knees and a small towel rolled up under my neck. Your body should feel 100 percent supported,” says Suhre.
What is the purpose of Savasana?
Research shows that restorative yoga poses like savasana can help reduce symptoms of stress. The study found that experienced yogis (who practice savasana frequently) had lower stressor response levels than novices (or non-practicing participants).
Savasana enables you to detach yourself from your worldly attachments, and when this happens, you can fully relax your body and mind.
If you want to challenge your mind and body more, discover the world of yoga with more of our yoga content or try our Yoga52 program on BODi!