Oh, Savasana – our Sacred Stillness Practice. It’s the icing on the cake in a yoga class. The cherry on top, if you will.
Perhaps you are familiar with Savasana or maybe it’s a new concept to understand. Wherever you are in your journey with the art of stillness, there is always much to learn and value in the practice.
Let’s explore Savasana a little deeper.
Savasana, often called “corpse pose”, is a restorative (resting) pose where you lay in stillness. This pose is nearly always the final pose of a yoga class.
“That’s it?” you may ask … well, yes and no. Laying in stillness sounds simple, but it can be quite complex. Some say that Savasana is actually the “hardest” pose because it requires a level of willingness that not all poses do. The willingness to fully honor the pose even when it’s difficult.
There is a known fact that as the body slows down, the mind speeds up. If you struggle with anxiety or any restlessness you may first experience a resistance of your mind and body to participate in Savasana. THIS IS NORMAL!
Savasana can feel vulnerable, unfamiliar, and strange in the beginning. But over time, with practice, your stillness can become welcomed and even desired.
So, why do we Savasana? By continuing to participate in and honor this pose, we send gratitude into your own body and mind for moving through our practice. It is also a loving way to send gratitude to your teacher for guiding you and holding the space for you to connect inward.
Practicing at the end of a complete yoga practice helps to integrate the beautiful elements that were found in the practice: the connection to your own breath, finding joy in mindful movement, and practicing self-love. Consider other fitness classes that you may have taken, are these special elements factored in? Typically not. And when you’re done with your aerobics, what do you do? We may often move on with the day no longer thinking of the class. But with Yoga, you get this incredible connection to your Self through the practice as well as a built in stillness practice that allows all of those elements to solidify in the mind, body, and spirit. All of this allows you to take that positive energy with you out into the world. This is why it is so Sacred.
There are lots of physical benefits to the pose as well! It calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. It relaxes the body and can reduce headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. It has even been known to help to lower blood pressure!
With all those perks, let’s get right into the pose!
Your best bet for a happy Savasana is to move through the body and mind first with a practice that honors all elements of your being. This sets you up to honor stillness with a stretched out body and a connected mind. (I like to tell my students to get their wiggles out before settling in).
With the classic understanding of Savasana, the pose is to be taken laying flat on the mat with the arms and legs spread slightly out to the sides of the body, no addition of props and in complete silence. That’s one way to do it!
Many modern yogis take their own approaches to the Sacred Stillness Practice of Savasana . In my classes, I remind my students that Savasana is always yogi’s choice for my class. I encourage the use of props (particularly a bolster under the knees, a blanket under the head, another blanket over the body for warmth, and an eye mask to darken your vision and sink in deep). My students will sometimes take their Savasana laying on their side bodies or even move to the wall for a legs-up-the-wall stillness practice. Anything goes when you honor the essence of stillness .
I also play music for my students. This helps to quiet the mind and the atmosphere no matter what is going on outside the studio. In particular, I play a song that is scientifically known to calm the body and reduce anxiety: Weightless by Marconi Union. I recommend this song to anyone seeking stillness and needing a guide to finding a calmed mind to do so.
And how do you quiet the mind when it doesn’t want to be still?! The first step is to commit to keeping the body still. This teaches the mind that it is safe to just Be. And then as you learn to stay still in the body, you can honor yourself by allowing the mind to either focus solely on the breath, to think of things you are grateful for, or perhaps to simply watch your thoughts float by like clouds in the sky, never focusing on or judging any thought that passes. In time, your mind will learn its own unique path to Stillness.
The bottom line of “how” to Savasana is that you allow yourself to find balance between honoring the practice and honoring yourself. Everything else will find its way.
Practicing the Sacred Stillness of Savasana is a beautiful way to honor your mind+body+spirit, to complete and solidify your practice within you, and to send gratitude inward and outward. Try different styles of it until you find what feels best to you!
Written by Tiffany Marquez. Tiffany teaches Early Bird Flow at 6am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.