shah-VAHS-anna), sava = corpse
This pose is also called Mrtasana (pronounced mrit-TAHS-anna, mrta = death)
Savasana is a pose of just total relaxation. It can actually be one of the most challenging of yoga poses because you are lying totally still. But it is also perhaps the most important part of a yoga practice. It serves many purposes: physical, spiritual and philosophical.
All of the practices that we do in Yoga, from the Pranayama or breathing exercises, to the physical practice, to the end at Savasana…..is all a metaphor for Life. When we begin, we are focusing on our Breath, the Beginning of Life, our birth into this world. Just like when a baby is born, the first thing they all learn to do is to breathe in air outside the womb, breathing into our belly….this is what makes the first part of the physical yoga practice.
Then we come to the second part, which is the actual body movement, the challenging poses, and balance. This represents our teen and adult years when Life becomes more challenging, requiring more out of you, to push yourself to the limit, and even then….a little further.
Then finally we come full circle, to the completion of Life which we will all have to enter someday….Savasana. This represents the End and yet it can also represent the Beginning, when we once again come back to the Breath and become reborn fully refreshed and once again, ready for the outside world. When you begin to look at Yoga in that sense, your practice becomes more meaningful and the poses more positive.
After the exertions of the practice, Savasana allows the body a chance to regroup and reset itself. After a balanced practice, the entire body will have been stretched, contracted, twisted and inverted. These means that even the deepest muscles will have the opportunity to let go and shed their regular habits, if only for a few minutes.
Furthermore, the physiological benefits of deep relaxation are numerous and include:
- A decrease in heart rate & rate of respiration
- A decrease in blood pressure
- Significantly lowers muscle tension
- Reduces general anxiety
- A reduction in the number and frequency of panic attacks
- Provides an increase in energy levels
- Increases focus and concentration
- Decreases fatigue
- Creates deeper and sounder sleep
- Improves self-confidence
Savasana provides a perfect time for inner focus an integration. After so much time being bound to the actions of the body, the practitioner’s awareness is hopefully turned inwards and purified of sensory distraction. Savasana then becomes the beginning of deeper, meditative yogic practices. In state of sensory withdrawal it becomes easier to be aware of the breath and of the state of the mind itself. Savasana also gives the nervous system a chance to integrate that in what can be thought of as a brief pause before coming back to everyday Life.
There are different variations to achieving Savasana:
- Lying flat with a folded blanket or small pillow under the head
- Placing a pillow or bolster under the knees. This position is perfect for those with back or knee issues or pregnant women.
- Legs propped up on a chair with blanket under the hips
- A folded blanket under the back
Which ever variation you choose, make sure you body is fully supported in a way that fits you so that you can be able to completely enjoy the meditative and restorative experience that Savasana has to offer. Softly begin to close your eyes, refocus on the breath, slowly deepening as you progress, and relax and allow the Earth to support you. Savasana can be performed anywhere between 2-7 mins. is sufficient time to allow the body time to restore and integrate all the energy that has been raised.
Remember to just breathe…….and let go. 🙂