We need to take the morbidity out of Savasana.
Savasana. Corpse pose.
Yoga instructors hardly ever use the English translation for savasana. It sounds almost gruesome. Recently, I gave this more thought. Why would such a seemingly negative sounding posture be a staple in yoga classes everywhere?
In my opinion, savasana is one of, if not the, most important pose in an asana practice. The body needs a chance to recuperate and relax after a vigorous sequence or even after intense stretching.
But I never say, “Hey, let’s all move in to corpse pose!”
I believe that savasana returns us to baseline after our practice. By concluding in this fashion we are almost resetting our bodies. We give the physical being a chance to recover, to take in the benefits of the postures just performed and to emerge ready once again to face the rest of our day. With so much positivity and joy attached to this asana, why such a negative connotation?
It was last week while instructing a class that the proverbial light bulb sparked in my head. “Let the whole body feel heavy” I said. “Completely relax. Feel the entire body melting into the earth.” The glass bulb grew brighter, I felt like I had just discovered adamantium steel.
When a person passes away, we say “Rest in Peace.” savasana allows us a little bit of peace while we’re still living.
By taking savasana after a yoga class, or even after a mentally strenuous activity, we have the chance to rest in peace while alive. Corpse pose is not at all morbid or yucky, rather it teaches us the lesson that we don’t have to wait until we’re dead to enjoy a bit of stillness.
What about the exit?
Just as we exit our asana with great care, being mindful of breath, carefully unfolding, so too should savasana be a delicate process of ending. We need to take the morbidity, due to the negative emotions and instinctual tensing that occurs when we think about death, out of Savsana.
If we think of savasana as corpse pose, then every emergence from it is like a reincarnation.
Each time we take a new inhale with the intention of reawakening the body and exiting the posture, we are in effect experiencing a rebirth. Each savasana is an opportunity for a new beginning.
The end of each yoga practice is a chance to awaken a new energy. Bring up a new perspective. We end our practice, but gain a fresh start. How fortunate are we that we can consciously choose to get up and look at life with fresh eyes and a positive mind each time we get to the yoga mat!? We are so lucky.
So to practitioners who skip savasana or leave class early to avoid this awkward back-laying: don’t! It annoys the instructor and disrupts the energy in the room. Just give in. Lay down. It is only five to 10 minutes.
Take to this asana with as much commitment, effort and intention as any other posture in the practice.
Then, breathe in and come alive with joy.
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Assistant Ed. Paige Vignola/Ed: Bryonie Wise