Savasana | Corpse Pose

(shah-VAHS-anna)
sava = corpse
Type of Pose: Prone Relaxation
Savasana should conclude both your asana and your pranayama practices.


Benefits

• Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
• Relaxes the body
• Reduces headache, fatigue, and insomnia
• Helps to lower blood pressure

Contraindications/Cautions

• Back injury or discomfort: Do the pose with the knees bent and the feet on the floor, hip-distance apart; support the bent knees on a bolster and/or put a pillow under head and/or back.
• Pregnancy: Raise the head and chest on a bolster.

Step by Step

In Savasana it’s essential that the body be placed in a neutral position.

1. Sit on the floor with knees bent. Roll down lowering the torso to the floor, resting on the elbows. Lift the pelvis off the floor, tuck it under and place the pelvis back on the floor. Straighten one leg at a time keeping the feet and legs together. Let the feet drop out to the sides. Soften, but don’t flatten the lower back.

2. With your hands lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck. If you have any difficulty doing this, support the back of the head and neck on a folded blanket.

3. Lift up the arms, draw the shoulders away from the ears. Lower the arms back to the ground, extending the arms slightly away from the body, palms facing up.

4. Relax the entire body, including facial muscles and eyes. Close the eyes and allow the eyeballs to release into the sockets. Release any tension in the face, around the eyes, cheeks, mouth and lips. Let the eyes skink to the back of the head, then turn them downward to gaze at the heart. Allow the lips to separate to relax the jaw. Relax the tongue to the lower palate. Relax the throat and neck. Relax the skin of the forehead. Release the brain to the back of the head.

5. Let go completely, feeling the whole body drop into the floor below. If thoughts come, focus on your breathing allowing the breath to become even and soft.

6. Stay in Savasana for 5 for every 30 minutes of practice.

7. To release, roll onto the right side with bent knees (students with irregular blood pressure should come up on the left). Take 2 or 3 breaths here. With an exhalation and using the strength of the arms, ground the legs and slowly come back up to a seated position, letting the head be the last thing to come up.

Modifications:
• To open up the chest for deeper breath, place a pillow underneath the chest.
• Usually Savasana is performed with the legs turned out. Sometimes though, after a practice session involving lots of outward rotation of the legs (as for standing poses), it feels good to do this pose with the legs turned in. Take a strap and make a small loop. Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent and slip the loop over your big toes. Lie back and turn your thighs inward, sliding your heels apart. The loop will help maintain the inward turn of the legs.

Teacher’s Tip
: In Savasana, it’s especially useful to check students’ physical alignment. One of the most difficult parts of the body for students to align on their own is the head. It’s common for students’ heads to be tilted or turned to one side or the other. Gently cradle the student’s head in your hands and draw the base of the skull away from the back of the neck, lengthening the shorter side of the neck, so that both ears are equidistant from the shoulders. Then lay the head back down on the floor, making sure that the tip of the nose is pointing directly toward the ceiling.

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