Why do we practice Savasana?

Savasana. Imagery from Shape.com

Savasana. Imagery from Shape.com

Hey there,

Do you remember the first time you practiced Savasana? I do…and is it okay to say it was a teensy bit awkward for me? Like my eyes were open, darting around the room. I felt like I couldn’t relax into the stillness. I have somewhere to be! Something else to do! I just checked the yoga box off of my list so can we get on with it?!

Savasana, known as corpse pose, takes place at the end of the yoga practice. We lay down on our backs (usually), palms flipped up to the sky, eyes closed. Maybe your back is supported with a pillow under the knees or a blanket is placed over your body. If you didn’t know better, this might look like a yoga nap. But, it’s not.

Savasana is one of the most important components of the practice. Whether you are practicing at home, in a studio, or at a gym, please don’t skip it. There’s a lot of power in those four to seven minutes (sometimes 10!) of stillness.

Here are a few reasons why we practice Savasana (which is sometimes the hardest pose of all):

  • Savasana encourages us to practice stillness and meditation. It’s easier to embrace stillness after we’ve moved and breathed for 60 minutes in a class, so here we learn to soak up the rest. We learn to slow down. How many times in your day do you actually pause? Eventually, you’ll pause more.

  • Savasana allows our muscles to relax and our heart rate to return to normal if it’s been elevated in practice or throughout our day. This pose puts us into the rest and digest state (the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in) instead of fight and flight mode (i.e. constant adrenaline), allowing our bodies and minds to truly heal and become less inflamed.

  • Savasana is a symbol of rebirth after each and every practice. In a yoga practice, we are doing more than strengthening the glutes or stretching the shoulders. We’re learning to let go and rid ourselves of negative thought patterns, perceptions, literally burning them away through the breath and through the heat of asana. In corpse pose, they “die.” We roll to the fetal position (a symbol of birth) and then up to seated to invite a peaceful, limitless, and liberated place of being.

During my first couple yoga practices, Savasana was the hardest thing for me to grasp. Side crow? Well, I couldn’t do it, but I could try. Chaturangas to upward facing dogs? Hard, but I could manage something resembling the flow without crashing onto my face.

But, Savasana? That was scary. Letting go, being still with my thoughts, or even (gasp) not being productive/doing things was the biggest challenge of all. If this is you, too, give it time. Practice. Eventually, I craved Savasana. I now savor the feeling it brings. That post-yoga floaty feeling, yes? The connection back to myself, my truth. That’s what I hope you find, too.

What was your first Savasana experience like? What is it like now? If you have five minutes, I’d love to hear about it!

With love,
Leanne

P.S. I’ve found a teaching home in Rhode Island! If you’re in the area or would like to take a road trip, I’ll be teaching at All That Matters in East Greenwich, RI on Thursdays at 7:15 p.m. This month, I also embark on my yoga therapy adventures in New Haven, CT, while continuing to teach our 200 Hour Teacher Training program at Yoga Dear in Lewisburg. I hope these classes and courses strengthen the programs at our home studio in PA and beyond. <3