Ever found yourself wanting to sneak out at the end of a yoga class when the teacher announces “it’s time for Savasana!”. Thinking you’ve got somewhere else to be? The yoga is done now thank you very much, I’ll leave you to it. But no! Don’t leave! The best part is just about to come.
Savasana really is one of the most important (and actually most difficult) asanas in our practice. Try not to make excuses to skip it – master it, treat it with the same kind of attention to detail and focus you would any other pose, and ultimately enjoy it. The benefits are far-reaching so you are doing your body and mind a huge favour by hanging on in there.
‘Sava’ in Sanskrit means corpse, and our goal in this pose is to imitate a lifeless being, completely motionless. By keeping the body in a motionless state for some time while breathing deeply and steadily, we can soothe the nerves and induce calmness of the mind. By doing this while still awake we learn to consciously relax.
When we normally talk about relaxing, it is not achieving what we mean here. So reading a book, taking a hot bath, or going for a walk may feel very relaxing, but complete and proper relaxation is so much more. We rarely achieve it in our normal daily lives. And no, mere sleeping does not count! You need to be fully conscious in this practice. With proper relaxation comes rejuvenation of the mind and body.
It is even thought medically that it can help cure certain health problems such as nervous disorders, high blood pressure, insomnia, chronic fatigue and gastric issues.
Now you are aware of why you should be doing it, let’s look at the right technique to make sure you’re getting the most out of this precious relaxation time.
Savasana is performed after completing your others asanas, at the end of the practice.
1. Lie flat on your back, full length, with the body loose and at ease. There should be no tension in any of your muscles. Keep your hands a little away from the thighs with your palms facing up. Your feet are falling open, mat-width apart.
2. Close your eyes. If possible put an eye pillow or dark cloth over your eyes.
3. Start to breathe deeply and slowly, with no jerky movements to disturb the body. Concentrate on deep exhalations.
4. Ensure that all parts of the body from the head to the toes are free of tension. The lower jaw should hang loose and not be clenched.
5. The mind should be calm and vacant. If it wanders, after each exhalation pause for a few seconds and focus on this. Alternatively try ‘scanning’ your body as something to concentrate on.
6. Stay in this pose for 15-20 minutes.
In the beginning you may find yourself falling asleep! But as you continue you’ll start to experience conscious relaxation where the nerves become passive and you feel completely refreshed. So the next time you hear the word Savasana at the end of your class, don’t run for the door, but instead savour this small part of your day when you can completely let go of everything else, stop thinking, and just be.