Updated: Sep 20, 2020
Even reading the word 'savasana' exudes calmness and relaxation. Why is this pose so utterly powerful and captivating? Because it really does give you the chance to totally relax. Eyes closed, nothing left to do. Knowing that the class is behind you, the rest of the day feels a million miles away, and it is your time. To do absolutely nothing.
Savasana is a Sanskrit word meaning corpse pose and literally requires you to lie flat on your back, arms and legs relaxed, eyes closed. It is often accompanied by yoga nidra (conscious relaxation) and most commonly found at the end of a yoga class. Although, if you're lucky, some classes may begin in savasana or there may even be one squeezed into the middle of a class!
So, why is it so good?
Aside from the obvious, you're lying down, and totally relaxing, you're also giving your body chance to process everything it has done in the practice before hand. The art of yoga nidra is to employ conscious relaxation. It is far from being asleep. Although, to the untrained eye, this is exactly what it looks like. But it is allowing the body to become totally relaxed, while remaining completely awake. So, if you aren't asleep, why does it leave you feeling so damn good?
4 reasons why savasana is an absolute all rounder
1. Conscious Relaxation (the mind part)
Prepare to relax. Take a nice big breath in, and let out a long slow exhale. Allow your right thumb, right index finger, middle finger, ring finger, pinkie, to relax. Your right lower arm, elbow, upper arm. Your right toes, lower leg, knee, upper leg, your whole right side. Now, do the same on the left. Then the back of your body, the front of your body. Both of your arms, both of your legs, your head. whole body. Bring your awareness to your breath. Feel your navel move up and down. Count every round of breath. From 27 to 1. Notice your mind. What is it doing? Chances are, if you are watching your breath, it is not doing a whole lot else. As your mind slows down, so does everything around it. The whole body, every muscle, tissue, cell, totally relaxed.
2. Surrender and Release (the feeling part)
Yoga philosophy speaks of bhavas or attitudes/feelings. It says that every posture can be linked to one of four bhavas, and savasana links to the bhava called Vairagya. Vairagya is a Sanskrit word that means to surrender or release. And in any vairagya pose, this is exactly what we are required to do. So, imagine lying in savasana. As you lie there, as you begin your conscious relaxation, your ego begins to let go. Humility takes over. You begin to cultivate feelings of surrender, feelings of release. Any tension, any stress, any excess energy, begins to melt into the floor, leaving a somewhat humbled version of yourself behind. Ready to receive, ready to process, ready to let go.
3. Collective Community (the social part)
OK, so when you're in savasana, you are alone. But if you're practicing as part of a class (even online) you are part of a bigger collective. A collective consciousness. And it can be somewhat humbling to know you are lying in savasana with a group of other people around the country, or the world, all breathing together, all consciously relaxing together, all letting go together. And this goes for all poses you do as part of a class, for sure, but in savasana there is something a little more special happening. It may be one of those, "you gotta experience it to know it," but if I try to explain, it may go a little like this. As we hold this pose, for 5 or 10 minutes, we really sink into it. We really become at one with it. And this gives us more opportunity to become at one with each other. Our energies linking together, having a party! Try it 😉
4. Rest and Digest (the physical part)
Well, if you aren't sold already (although, you probably were at the title of this blog) the physical benefits of savasana are immense. We've all heard of fight and flight. The innate run for your life that a gazelle experiences in the wild as it is being stalked by a cheetah. The day to day anxieties, ever demanding schedules, digestion issues, sleep issues and all the other problems that many of us face as we spend so much of our days living on the edge, just in case the tiger is around the corner! Savasana, and all that comes with it, guides us gently and lovingly into the opposite state of our nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest response. Allowing our body and mind to fully relax and let go really makes space for the magic to happen. The body to heal, to strengthen, and to work to a place of balance. No wonder if you practice savasana last thing at night, you sleep like a baby and wake up feeling like a king!
So, give it a shot. All you need is a little bit of (clean) floor! Get down there, take a big breath in and a bigger breath out and let it all go. The magic is innate.
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Carrie is a co-founder of The Frog Project, yoga teacher, and full time stay at home mum to two smalls. When she's not playing with the kids or practicing yoga, you'll likely find her in the middle of her veg patch, trowel in hand and covered in mud. She loves the outdoors, and would camp every night given the chance. She and her partner in crime, Martin, set up The Frog Project with the aim of bringing classical yoga to all, and deliver live online classes with a group of dedicated teachers, to students of all experiences, ages, shapes, sizes, jobs, lives, you name it, from all around the world. Join them now and get 15 days of free unlimited classes. It's just yoga.