Corpse Pose, Savasana
Savasana, the Corpse Pose or the Death posture is considered by some to be one of most difficult of all the yoga poses to perform successfully. You might be surprised to hear this because what can be easier than lying down flat on your back for a few minutes? However, there is more to it than what appears on the surface.
The word Shavasana or Savasana is a Sanskrit word and is combination of two words shava meaning 'corpse' and asana generally meaning 'pose' or 'posture' in the context of yoga asana practice. Shavasana is the yogic pose of relaxation which rests and relieves any tensions which may be present in the body. It involves consciously willing the entire body to relax to the point where it becomes as limp as a lifeless corpse. Through the practice of the corpse pose complete rest is obtained in a few minutes and afterwards one is able to rise fully refreshed.
Preparing for the Corpse Pose
As the essence of the corpse pose is stillness, then its cornerstone is physical balance, which in turn leads to a state of mental balance or equanimity. It is very important to be diligent about how to organize oneself for and maintain the posture for a length of time without having to move even slightly.
Careful attention to the right side and left side of our bodies will reveal that we are quite crooked. We seem to use one side more than the others.
- Lie down on your back and scan your body
- Are you lying straight or do you feel like a banana
- Notice and be aware of all the points on your body that is in contact with the floor.
- Is your head on one side?
- Which part is pressing hard on the floor?
- Where do you feel heavy and which parts of your body feel light?
- Do you feel one leg is longer than the other?
The above are just some of the points that indicate to us that we are out of balance and the only solution is to perform yoga asanas or postures that will help us get back into balance. This is essential if you would like to do the corpse pose perfectly.
However, the corpse pose or Shavasana can be done whenever a person needs to relax and get rid of stress, have a good night's sleep or just get rejuvenated at any time of the day.
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How to do the Corpse Pose
The corpse pose or savasana can be done in the following steps in preparation:
- It has to be done on an empty stomach
- Stand erect and take a few deep breaths.
- Then lie down with your knees bent and feet on the floor
- Hands and arms flat on the ground with palms facing the ceiling.
- Arms slightly away from the body where they naturally fall.
- Bend your knees outward and slide your feet on the floor to stretch out your legs. This is easier on the back.
- Let your feet fall outwards close to edge of your yoga mat or around 18 inches apart.
- Close your eyes gently
- Adjust all the parts of the body comfortably, then relax and become perfectly still.
- Once in the corpse pose do the following:
- Bring your awareness down to your feet
- Do not move or become tense – simply be aware of them.
- Are they tense? If so consciously relax them.
- Then draw your awareness to your ankles, lower legs above and below. Relax
- Continue your way up to the knees, thighs and hips, both above and below. Scan for any tension and relax
Pause: Feel the whole body relaxed from the waist downwards.
- Gradually proceed upward – to the lower abdomen, navel, upper abdomen, chest, back, hands, lower arms, elbows, upper arms, shoulders.
- Consciously relax at every part of the above mentioned body parts.
Pause again: Make sure that your whole body from the shoulders down is completely relaxed. If you find tension in any part, become aware of it for a few moments and the tension will melt away.
- Next move on to the throat, chin, mouth, nose, cheeks, ears, eyes, eyelids, forehead, top of the head, back of the head, scalp, and the whole head.
- Make sure all the parts are relaxed.
- Become aware of the whole body with an all pervading awareness, without any movement or tension in any part. If you feel itchy in any spot remember it is the mind which is fluctuating and not the physical body. Just watch the itch until it disappears.
Finally your body should feel limp and lifeless like a dead corpse. Imagine your clothes are lying limp on the floor as if there is no body to hold it up. This is possible when you imagine that your whole body is pure energy and not physical matter.
This whole process from the feet to the head takes only a few minutes. If necessary, repeat it a number of times to enter this peaceful state.
You have now achieved the shavasana or corpse pose. After some time you can come out of it by bringing your awareness back to your breath, to your body, open your eyes slowly and become aware of your surroundings.
Roll over and get up slowly, walk around gently for sometime. Try not to loose the stillness by getting too busy with your activities.