We all know that moment when your yoga teacher says “…and making your way to your final savasana”, an invitation to just be and signalling the class is nearing an end. Savasana (or corpse pose) is the final posture in a yoga class, it is a time for rest and a chance to surrender fully into the moment.
How to Savasana
First, get a blanket and a bolster or a pillow, put some socks on – you want to get comfy! Your body temperature will naturally drop in savasana, so its important to ensure that you will be warm and comfortable.
The most common savasana is lying on your back, with the feet slightly apart and the arms alongside you, with the palms facing up. You can also put a pillow or bolster underneath your knees, this can be a nice position particularly if you have lower back problems.
However, the most important thing is that you able to find a position where you are comfortable. So you could consider one of the following savasana variations and adjustments to help you create a relaxing position to rest in and get the most out of your savasana.
Legs up the wall
Setting up next to a wall, wiggle the hips close to the wall but leave a little bit of space. Then walk the feet up the wall, creating an L-shape with the body. Let the arms lie out to the sides or place them on the belly. You can place a pillow under your head for more comfort.
Lying on your back, bring the soles of the feet to touch and allow the knees to drop out towards each edge of the mat. Arms can lie alongside you or you can place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly and tune into the breath. This posture provides a gentle stretch for the hips and groin area, which is great if you have tight hips, as many of us do.
Lie on the belly, stacking the forearms in front of you and resting the forehead on the arms like a pillow. The legs lie straight out behind you, with the feet about hip-width apart. You might like to place a blanket underneath the hips for more comfort. This posture is great if you have lower back pain.
Lie on your side, bend the knees slightly towards you, you can use the lower arm as a pillow to rest your head on and the top arm can lie whichever way is most comfortable for you. I like to stretch it overhead.
There are many other types of savasana and you can use more props to help support your body. Once you have found a position where you will be able to lie, fully relax, in a comfortably but alert state, aim to stay here for 5 to 10 minutes.
Physically, lying in savasana creates time for relaxation for the body, this helps to lower the heart rate, helping to lower stress levels. If you have just completed a yoga practice, the body and energy will feel more balanced, usually more so than before you started your practice. This is time for the mind and body to rest, in a peaceful moment.
Savasana is about finding stillness with awareness, you don’t want to fall asleep. It is so important that you take this time to allow your body to rest and reset after your yoga practice and before you transition back into your day. It helps the body to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest response. Many of us live in the sympathetic nervous system due to the stresses of everyday life, this is the fight or flight response, which prepares our body for action. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, it will be easier for the body to slow down, rest and quieten the monkey mind.
When to savasana?
It can be nice to go into a savasana when you arrive home from work and need to transition to calm after a stressful day. It can also be nice first thing in the morning or before you head to bed, as a way to start or end your day on the right foot. This will allow you time to switch off, connect to how your body is feeling, giving a moment to yourself.
The mind can race to all the things you need to do next, but see if you can try to keep your focus on the body and the breath. When you notice the distractions coming up, know that it is completely normal, the aim is not to stop the thoughts, it is to notice them. When you have become aware that your mind has wandered, see if you bring your focus back to the breath and then you are present in the moment. Try taking deep, slow breaths into the belly and exhaling slowly out of the nose or sigh out of the mouth to fully let go.
I invite you to completely surrender into the moment in your next savasana, whether that is in a yoga class or at a time when you are feeling overwhelmed and need time to regroup. Allow yourself to tune out from the world around you and feel the benefits of a calmer self. Your body and your mind will thank you for it!