The Most Underrated Asana: Savasana 

“Lie down, close your eyes and relax” – the words we all look forward to hearing at the end of the class, meaning we’ve worked through some sun salutations, practiced asanas and are ready to rest. After getting into a comfortable position, taking a cleansing breath or maybe an audible exhale, we find ourselves in savasana, also known as corpse pose.

I think savasana is perhaps the easiest asana to perform but one of the most difficult to master, a form of conscious surrender. In today’s fast-paced society, people are so used to instant gratification and efficiency, where we want effects of our actions to be nearly immediate, thus find it hard to take a moment to slow down. I know I definitely do, where I used to really struggle just lying still for a few minutes and always had the urge to fidget. Even when I did self-practice, I often left out savasana because I wanted to get back to my day instead of lying around. On the other side of the spectrum, some find themselves falling asleep, where they let go and lose focus, enjoying the pose a little too much.

However, savasana has many benefits both physiologically and psychologically. It is an opportunity for us to physically and mentally relax each part of the body, usually starting from the feet up. By taking time in savasana, we can absorb the energy from the physical asanas and dissolve any tension in our muscles, letting our body recover and rest, as well as taking a mental inventory and checking in with how our body feels. Besides that, we can allow our parasympathetic system to take over, where we can slow down our respiratory rate and heart rate, and give our bodies time for them both to return to resting rate. Although the autonomic system usually works unconsciously, in savasana we can consciously notice and register how our breath and heartbeat is slowing down, and in that way, feel more relaxed.

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Preparation into Savasana pose

In any form of the yoga practices, one of the most common poses that the instructor would instruct their students to be practicing will be Savasana (or commonly known as ‘Corpse’ pose).

To achieve Savasana;

1) Lie down on your back, with the face and torso facing upwards.

2) Both feet slightly apart (ideally the width of the mat & not further than that).

3) All the ten toes turned out and relaxed.

4) Both arms slightly away from your body.

5) Both palms facing upwards.

6) The shoulders relax downwards, with the chin slightly tilting towards the neck.

7) All facial muscles and the rest of the body relax.

8) Natural breathing takes place and try not to have any thoughts in the mind.

To most yoga newbies or anyone totally new to the practice, Savasana may seems to be one of the easiest poses to be practiced. On the contrary, any experienced instructors will tell you that it is actually one of the more difficult poses to be practiced correctly, in order to achieve its optimum effect. So why is it so difficult about practicing this pose then? Most yoga practitioners will tell you that it is by means not an easy feat to tame the mind. When the body is not doing anything, the mind will tends to wander off, recollecting past events or to be reminded of some tasks to be done later that day or the week.

Thus when practising the pose, it is important to stay present and yet be able to let go of the body and the mind, after a tough session of your yoga practice. Your mind has to be in the state of being awake and asleep at the same time; trying not to focus on any thoughts, but just be conscious and present in the moment. In addition, it is also important to be able to maintain a steady stream of natural breathing, so that the body and the mind can relax even further. Also, there is no fix period of time for anyone to stay in the pose to achieve its optimum effect. You can stay as long or as short period of time as you may require, depending on how you feel on that particular yoga practice. It is always helpful to be able to listen to the instructor’s guidance or instructions, while settling into the pose.

When Savasana is being done correctly, it will allow the mind to be conscious and not react to the thoughts coming into the mind. It will then allow full surrendering of the mind and allow the senses to be heightened. 

Namaste and have a good practice everyone. 🙂

Wayne Wong (200hrs Jan-Feb 2014)