There is no denying Savasana is everyones favourite in yoga class! but is it a pose or is it just the lying down part at the end of every class?
Lets break it down!
Savasana, Sava meaning corpse and asana meaning pose. Its definitly a pose!
The pose of a corpse where you are literally giving into the weight and relaxation of your body as though you were dead. The pose itself is described as lying flat on your back, on your mat, feet as wide as your mat, arms by your sides, palms facing up, keep the head and neck central so the spine is straight, gently tuck the chin and relax.
Doesn’t sound difficult? All you have to do is allow the whole body to soften and let go. You can cover your eyes and wrap yourself in a blanket. Variations are available for example if you have lower back pain you can put a bolster under your knees or perhaps support the head or neck with a folded blanket.
So why do some of the more well known yoga teachers such as BKS Iyengar describe this as the most difficult pose?
It’s to do with your mind. In savansana you are meant to release mental chatter and focus on the present moment. You are not meant to fall asleep, you are not meant to think, you are meant to let go of daily life and its worries and stresses. As you would in death. This is the part that is the struggle. How many of us find it easy or even comfortable to switch off from home, family, work? We are so used to our minds and bodies being busy! That is why savasana is so hard but so good because at least we are trying to switch off and by giving ourselves permission to try it becomes easier.
Try is the important word here. As I said its not easy and sometimes it will work better than othertimes. Sometimes you will fall asleep and sometimes you will not switch off and that is ok. However if your getting frustrated there are techniques to help you. For instance you can focus on slowing the breath, listening for your heartbeat, try a slow body scan or my favourite, focus on a single point inside your head but as with any yoga pose it is with regular practice of savasana that makes the difference.
But why should you let go of everyday life in this way?
It is a deeply important part of your practice because when you shut down the body and mind after yoga it allows your physical and emotional self to process the poses and the energy used in your practice before returning back to daily life. Like a reset button savasana can give clarity and renewed energy and not just after yoga!
By teaching ourselves how to stay awake while completely resting our bodies we are calming the nervous system. When stressed the nervous system is responsible for anxiety, fatigue, depression and more. So not only can savasana can be a sweet and gentle lie down but it is also a helpful tool in soothing the stressed mind in our chaotic busy lives and an integral pose that should be part of any yoga practice or class.
The recommendation is that you have 5 minutes of savasana per 30 minutes of yoga. So per class you should have at least a full ten minutes in savasana. As a big believer of its processes I don’t think anything less will give you the deep relaxation required.
Savasana is the point that makes my classes so worthwhile to me. Simply knowing that someone/everyone is taking 10 full minutes of quiet for themselves and then at the end, once class comes back up into a comfortable seated position the results of yoga with savasana are real and obvious.
So next time you are at yoga class and its time for savasana, don’t leave before it happens, don’t rush it and even stay down a little longer because its good for you. Taking time for yourself, being patient and relaxing is important because you are important.
Yoga means union, the union of body, mind and spirit and in savasana you are bringing body, mind and spirit together in the most peaceful and calming way. So perhaps savasana is one of the most yogic yoga poses you can get!