What Is Savasana, and Why Is It So Important?
Dealing with stress is an everyday struggle. From money to relationships to work responsibilities, it seems like there’s always something to worry about. Luckily, there are some easy techniques that can help you get a handle on your daily stressors, like the yoga pose savasana.
During savasana, you allow yourself to lie in stillness, releasing tension in your whole body, one exhale at a time. When we quiet the mind and the body, we experience a euphoric sense of ease, and a release of stress.
What Is Savasana?
Savasana is a pose that can help bring balance to the breath, body, and mind, and it helps calm you. In Sanskrit, it translates to “corpse pose.” In fact, when the word is broken down, sava means corpse, and asana means pose.
In The Key Poses of Yoga, author Ray Long, MD, FRCSC, mentions that corpse pose signifies the end of a yogic cycle. A typical cycle consists of heating the body through asana, activating the parasympathetic nervous system through breath work, and finally cooling the body down for deep relaxation — savasana.
“We do incredible work on both the body and the breath with asana and pranayama in our yoga classes, and I would argue that savasana is the mind’s workout,” Katrina Suhre 500-RYT CorePower Yoga says. “It is the mind’s pose.”
How to Do Savasana
Physically, savasana is pretty simple — you just lay there! But mentally, the pose is more challenging. Although this pose can be done with your body placed in several ways, here are some tips for doing it in its most common form — laying down.
Note: Before jumping right into savasana, we recommend completing a series of poses to tire the body and prepare your mind for repose.
- Lie on your back with your arms extended by your sides and your legs stretched out straight. Elongate your spine.
- Turn your palms toward the ceiling. Let your legs fall open, so your pinky toes fall toward your mat.
- Relax your body by softening your muscles one at a time. Notice your breath, but don’t control it — allow it to flow naturally.
- Let your senses withdraw from the outside world. Dive deeper into a meditative state as you let your breath slow down.
- Lie in stillness until your mind and body are ready to move on.
Savasana allows you to relax, but you need to limit distractions. “Keep your mind busy, but focused. If your mind is still going, try tuning into a specific part of your body like your nostrils. Feel each breath as it enters the nasal passages,” Suhre suggests. “Your mind will wander because you are human; redirect it with love and kindness.”
And remember, the more you practice savasana, the easier it becomes to rely on your body to tell you when it is time to come out of the pose.
Modifications for Savasana
If you can’t relax in the position described above, here are a few suggestions to make savasana more comfortable for an extended period:
1. If you have knee tension:
Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor (or find reclined bound angle pose with two blocks under your knees).
2. If you’re pregnant:
Depending on where you are in your pregnancy, you may find it more comfortable to stay seated — sukhasana (or easy pose) is a good option here. For more support, position yourself with your back against a wall.
3. If you have breathing issues:
Elevate your chest with a bolster. A bolster can help expand your ribcage, allowing more room for your lungs to expand.
4. If you just aren’t comfortable:
Use props! Ask your yoga instructor for guidance on how to position yourself for optimal comfort. “One of my favorite ways to practice a long savasana is with a bolster under my knees, and a small towel rolled under my neck. Your body should feel 100 percent supported,” Suhre says.
What Is the Purpose of Savasana (Corpse Pose)?
Research shows that restorative yoga postures like savasana may help reduce symptoms of stress. The study found that experienced yogis (who frequently practice savasana) had lower response levels to stressors than the novices (or nonpracticing participants) did.
Savasana enables you to detach from your worldly attachments, and when that happens, you can fully relax both your body and mind.