Every yoga pose, known in Sanskrit as an “asana,” has its own way of bringing the body and mind into greater harmony. World-renowned yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar poetically compares the body to a bow and each asana to the various arrows with which individuals target the ultimate aim of yoga practice — the soul.
This guide offers an in-depth look at corpse pose (savasana).
About the Pose
Yoga can’t get much more relaxing than this. “Sava” in “savasana” means “corpse” in Sanskrit. The aim of this pose isn’t to ruminate over mortality, but to experience total relaxation and stillness. While it’s technically a pose for beginners, even advanced students can have difficulty fully relaxing into this position. Nonetheless, everyone needs a quiet, peaceful moment or two during a stressful day. Savasana lets your body reconnect with your soul, which makes this a good way to start a meditation session. This pose allows you to rest like the dead, yet shows you how alive and vital you truly are as you take each calming breath.
- Helps relieve anxiety, migraines, fatigue, and insomnia
- Relaxes the body
- Calms the mind
- B.K.S. Iyengar advises pregnant women and people with anxiety or a respiratory ailment to use a bolster for their head when practicing savasana.
- Individuals with a bad backache should lie with their back on the floor while resting their calves on a chair.
- Full Body Stretch Pose (Supta Utthita Tadasana): People usually practice this beginner pose, which stretches both ends of the body, at the end of a yoga session to open up their body.
- Legs up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani): This beginner pose facilitates relaxation, decreases tension in the lower back, increases circulation throughout the body, and stretches the legs.
Trying It Out
This pose requires only a comfortable, flat surface. Keep your breathing full and steady throughout your practice, and follow these step-by-step instructions to try this pose out for yourself:
Start by sitting in staff pose with your legs stretched out in front of you. Distribute your weight evenly between each buttock then press the backs of your knees into the floor and sit up as tall as you can.
Bend your knees and draw your heels closer to your buttocks. Hold your knees and press the bones in your buttocks to the floor.
While keeping your knees, feet, and buttocks where they are, start to lower your torso toward the floor. You can do this by placing your forearms behind you, palms down.
Slowly lower your torso, imagining each vertebrae touching the floor. Rest your head on the floor and place your palms at your sides, facing up. Now, lower your legs to the floor while keeping your torso still.
Relax your legs and move your arms farther away from your torso. Let your hands and fingers loosen and rest. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing for at least five minutes.
Refining the Pose
Achieving maximum benefit from your yoga practice requires you to pay close attention to your physical alignment. To ensure you maintain proper alignment, ask yourself these questions:
- Are the tops of your thighs relaxed?
- Are your hands relaxed?
- Are your legs tilted out to each side equally?
- Corpse Pose Variation Knees Bent (Savasana Variation Knees Bent): Starting in staff pose (dandasana), lower yourself to your right side with your knees bent. Slowly roll onto your back with your knees still bent. Now, place your feet on the floor about a foot away from your hips and align them with your sitz bones. Breathe as gravity pushes gently on all of your body.
- Corpse Pose Variation Arms Up (Savasana Variation Arms Up): This variation involves stretching your arms above your head while you keep your feet relaxed and tilted away from each side of your body.