by Emily Regan: What is Shavasana?
Shavasana, or corpse pose, is the final relaxation of every practice and it is arguably the most important pose a practitioner will do. It is the ritualistic close to a practice to award that hard work with the meditative contemplation it deserves.
What Happens to the Body During Shavasana?
During shavasana, the body has a chance to relax after all that hard work. Heart rate slows, Muscles relax, and after spending a practice focusing on what each part of the body is doing, being still allows a practitioner to focus on the one thing that’s still moving: the breath. Savasana can also really beneficial to those suffering from anxiety because in slowing one’s breathing, blood pressure also decreases.
Performing shavasana at the end of your practice also gives the body an opportunity to integrate the new information it acquired while stretching and posing. Bodies are constantly evolving and changing with the new information provided to them during exercise and this relaxation gives the body a few minutes to process what it has learned.
It is also important during this time for a practitioner to review their body to notice any areas of muscle tension. If any are found, this is a time to consciously release that tightness to deepen the relaxation.
How to Do Savasana:
- Lay back flat on the floor. Due to various injuries or ailments, you might need some slight modifications such as a folded blanket under your head, a bolster under your knees, etc. The point of this pose is to allow your body relax and pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something isn’t right.
- Put your arms and legs out at about a 45-degree angle. Allow your feet to relax to the side and let your palms face the ceiling.
- Gently roll your head from side to side to relax your spine. Straighten your spine to make sure it’s properly aligned.
- Breathe deeply. Take this time to be consciously aware of your relaxed body. Let your muscles melt tow
- ards the floor and breathe into your abdomen. Do your best not to be distracted by outside elements and clear your mind by focusing on your breath.
- Try not to fall asleep, but don’t beat yourself up if you do. It happens.
How to Get Out of Savasana:
- Don’t jump up. You could give yourself a head rush that could lead to fainting.
- Gently bring your focus back to the present. Wiggle your toes to reawaken your body and open your eyes.
- Roll to your right side and gently push yourself up with your arm. Again, don’t rush—there’s no prize for being the first one to pop up like a prairie dog.
- Come to a seated position on your mat. If you’re in a class, the instructor might have a few closing words for you. If you’re at home, give yourself time to refocus and be proud of the practice you’ve accomplished.
There you have it! Enjoy your practice and enjoy the conscious rest that is shavasana.