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It’s always a bit surprising to hear that Savasana or the “Corpse Pose” is considered the most important Yoga pose. It can also be the most difficult one. Some people can’t lay still or fret, while others simply go to sleep. And yet, this is the very pose that can bring us greater insight and peace.
Savasana or Savashana is at the heart of Yoga practice. It is the place where the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual elements of Yoga meet. Based on these elements, Savasana brings many benefits, including:
- Complete relaxation of the physical body
- A calm and positive mind
- Improved focus and concentration
- Reduced blood pressure
- Raised awareness of the “Inner You”
- Letting go of the ego and attachment to material things
- Connection with a spiritual source
Check out the article below to find out a bit more about the steps and benefits of Savasana. Importantly, this also includes a short and handy six-step Savasana script to help you get going, together with an audio-script you can use during Savasana itself.
The Importance of Savasana
Generally, our focus in everyday life is on outside matters. Often, the daily events, demands and people around us take up much of our energy. In addition, these day-to-day demands leave us tired and stressed, both at an acute and chronic level.
Savasana, either guided on our own, can become a key ingredient to help us calm down and centre.
Overall, learning how to be centred is one of the key building blocks of Yoga practice. Centring the body allows us to connect with our breath and drawing on the quietness that lies within us, to emerge refreshed and re-energized.
Benefits of Savasana
Savasana benefits us at many levels across the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions. Below, we describe some of the most important benefits. These are likely to be just a small sample of the overall benefits we stand to gain from practicing Savasana.
Complete relaxation of the physical body
Progressing through Savasana at the end of a Yoga session is a great way to relax and rejuvenate the body before stepping out into the world again. Especially if we step through a systematic process of relaxing specific parts of the body, physical relation can be profound and healing at the same time.
A calm and positive mind
Yoga has a demonstrated effect on the body’s parasympathetic nervous system which in turn enables the body and the mind to stop responding to external stimuli and to relax. In addition, Yoga stimulates the production of the brain messenger GABA which regulates to the body’s level of activity and minimizes feelings of stress and anxiety. Check our article on why Yoga feels so good to find out more detail on this.
Improved focus and concentration
Deep breathing carried out during Yoga also influences the sympathetic nervous system – that part of the nervous system which makes us awake and alert. Hence, we come out of a Yoga session with an increased level of focus and ability to concentrate.
Reduced blood pressure
Meditation, including Savasana, is known as a “biofeedback” technique. We can use this to control body functions which are usually outside of our control such as the heart rate. Biofeedback techniques are an accepted way to prevent and treat conditions such as high blood pressure, migraines and chronic pain.
Scientific studies have shown that Pranayama (Yogic breathing) for five minutes decreased blood pressure significantly, together with a slight fall in the heart rate.
Raised awareness of the “Inner Self”
During Savasana, the boundaries between the body and the mind merge. We aim to let go of the chattering of our busy minds and connect with the inner self. This allows us to develop a greater level of awareness of what is going on inside us, and tap into thoughts and feelings that are usually kept under the radar. The result is a greater level of self-knowledge about the things that drive us.
Letting go of the ego and attachment to material things
The ego does not have much of a good reputation these days and yet all of us are to a lesser or greater degree driven by it. It is a smart and undercover operator, no matter how much we focus on managing it. Most often it manifests as attachments to things external things in our lives.
Some practitioners talk about the “mine” field. This expression stands for the many things we count as ours: my partner, my house, my career. However, all these things can disappear or be taken away, in turn causing hurt, jealousy, anger, etc.
Focusing on external things means we give our power away – as in the end, the only thing we have (some) control over is our own life.
Savasana helps us get in touch with the “mine”field and put it into perspective. It helps us focus on what we are able to genuinely control in our lives and to be grateful for what we have.
Connection with a spiritual source
Yoga is not a religion but a life philosophy which, at its highest level, aims to connect us with a spiritual source – whatever that might mean for us. Savasana and meditation are critical in this context, as laid out the in eight limbs of Yoga.
Savasana Script – Step By Step
Savasana can be practised lying down, sitting or standing. Try to find a place where you will not be disturbed for a short while is important.
If you are not yet practised in Savasana or meditation, read the following steps to help you get started.
Lie down on your straight on your back and let your feet roll outwards. Position your arms next to your body, palms up or down. Keep the back of your neck long and support with a small pillow if there is any neck strain. Draw the chin gently towards the chest. Place a pillow under your knees to keep your back straight if that is more comfortable. You have entered the pose traditionally known as Savasana or corpse pose. If you choose to be in a sitting position, lift the breast bone a little and relax the shoulders.
Close your eyes. Relax your scalp and face, and turn your attention inwards. Now, get in touch with your body and notice how it feels. Notice the movement of the breath and the sensations that arise from it in the body. If you find it difficult to relax, focus on individual body parts in turn and briefly tense them, before completely relaxing them.
Allow your breath to happen in a natural way, without controlling it in any way. Trust your body to breathe just as it would during sleep. Allow your breath to settle into a slow, natural rhythm.
Keep your attention on your breath and the sensations it creates. Do you feel your breath in your nose, your chest or your belly? Focus on one of them. Observe the breath moving in and out of your body closely.
As you breathe in, the body energizes. As you breathe out, the body relaxes. Even just a few breaths are helpful, but the benefits are greater if you stay in Savasana for 10-12 minutes.
Thoughts tend to stray frequently at the beginning and that’s OK. When you notice that your attention begins to wander, gently draw your awareness back to your breath. Surrender to the experience.
Don’t analyze or judge. With practice, the mind finds it increasingly easy to focus on the breath. This allows the body to calm down naturally and detach from overwhelming thoughts and emotions.
To come out of Savasana, take a few deep breaths before opening your eyes. Wriggle your finger and toes, and start to loosely move your limbs and body before getting up.
Guided Savasana (Audio) Script
Are there any contraindications for Savasana? Savasana is the one pose that does not really have any contraindications. However, if you have a sore neck, back or knees, you will find it more comfortable to lie still for an extended period of time if you have a pillow or blanket under your head or knees.
Are there any essential oils that work well for Savasana? Essential oils during Savasana are a wonderful tool to further stimulate relaxation. Check out our article on Yoga and Aromatherapy to find the oils that are best to promote a sense of calm and relaxation.
Savasana benefits you especially at times when you feel stressed out or agitated, but practice is best done on a daily basis. The benefits you will derive are enormous although perhaps not immediately obvious. Peace is on the way :-).