How to get into deep relaxation with Shavasana (shah-VAHS-anna) or Corpse Pose (sava = corpse)
Shavasana looks so simple – but is it really that easy to get into deep relaxation in this pose? Here’s a guideline to help you feel how body, mind and breath dive deeply in relaxation of Shavasana.
Lie down on your back. Legs are about hip width apart, toes fall to the side naturally. Arms lie in a 45º angle beside the torso and palms facing up. Fingers curl naturally. It is important to get the body in a neutral position and bring it into balance so that your mind does not get disturbed. Improper alignment will distract your mind. Left and right side of the body should be symmetrical.
The tongue should be relaxed and not attached to the palate. All muscle of the face and body should be completely relaxed. The eyes are closed and should be as motionless as possible.
Visualise your brain in the skull and imagine that it is getting smaller and that it is sinking to the back of your head.
Breathe in through your nose – deep and steady. When you breathe out (through your nose) the air flows smoothly and gracefully out of your body.
Continue to keep your body and mind as still as possible. Imagine your weight shifts to the back of your body. Into the heels, calves, buttocks, back, shoulders, arms and the back of your head. Feel that your whole body is grounded. Be conscious of the sound of your breath throughout Shavasana – this way you will stay rooted in the here and now.
The length of Shavasana should be approximately 5 minutes per 30 minutes Asana practice.
To come out of this pose first start to slightly move your fingers and toes, then stretch your arms and legs out as much as possible. Roll gently with an exhalation onto one side and take 2 or 3 breaths. With another exhalation press your hands against the floor and lift your torso. The head should always come up last.
From my experience after attending many yoga classes I get the impression that for quite a number people it is not very easy to relax in Shavasana. I’ve even heard that they find this pose very challenging instead of enjoying the release after their Asana practice. However, in this case I think it’s worth continuing to try. I myself love Shavasana and could often stay there for hours. And it’s so important to take a break, rest and enjoy the quiet mind and body that total relaxation gives you.