Savasana (corpse posture) is a simple looking asana. Lie down on your back, legs straight and released so they fall slightly to the sides, arms alongside the body, palms turned up – and you are physically arranged in Savasana. It is a resting posture that can be visited numerous times during a practice.
Savasana is an opportunity to let the body settle and to observe. It is often introduced at the end of an Asana practice to close the practice by letting the breath and body settle and to observe changes in body, breath, consciousness, energy, feelings… to give the body an opportunity to absorb and communicate.
Savasana may seem like “an easy posture” – and physically it is (though there are therapeutic situations in which it is inaccessible). The challenge Savasana offers is to remain present and attentive – in this sense it is almost a trap. During pratice the mind is reasonably occupied – coordinating movement, keeping balance, breathing, sustaining effort, etc. In Savasana the mind is relieved from it’s responsibilities and left with nothing to do and tends to wander. My teacher often reminds us that Savasana is a “rest from practice, not from life”.
Still, despite it’s seeming simplicity, there are some physical qualities to look for when practicing Savasana:
- Neck placement – keep your neck long by keeping the chin tucked in.
- Arm placement – find a position in which your arms and shoulders relaxed. Explore by moving your arms further and closer to your body until you find a restful position.
- Hand placement – make sure your palms are facing up and that your fingers are relaxed.
- Lower Back – if the lower back is sensitive or strained (sometimes as a result of the practice itself), releasing the area around it can lead (though actually it’s revealing) discomfort or pain. As a result there can be a tendency to keep the lower back tense. If you encounter discomfort in your lower (or any other area of the body for that matter), place you attention softly on it, keep breathing and try to slowly and gradually sink into relaxation.
- Legs – remember to release the legs, it’s simple, but also easy to forget.
- Small Places – let the head weigh down, release your facial muscles, let the eyelids fall & close lightly, release the tongue in your mouth. Let your consciousness explore your body and gently release what can be released.
Remember to also let your breath relax. If it is still demanding and rushed, try to witness as it gradually relaxes. I have found that the breath settles quicker when attention is placed on it, otherwise it can take much longer, the mind wanders until suddenly it finds the breath settled.