Shavasana-Corpse Pose is the art of practicing our death

Shavasana

The name comes from the Sanskrit words Shava (शव, Śava) meaning “corpse”, and Asana (आसन, Āsana) meaning “posture” or “seat”

Shavasana is perhaps the most important part of yoga practice. Lying on the back, the arms and legs are spread at about 45 degrees, the eyes are closed and the breath deep, using dirga (long) pranayama. The whole body is relaxed onto the floor with an awareness of the chest and abdomen rising and falling with each breath. All parts of the body are scanned for muscular tension of any kind, which is consciously released as it is found, optionally with a small repetitive movement of the area. All control of the breath, the mind, and the body is then released for the duration of the posture, typically 20-30 minutes although often less in Western yoga classes.

The posture is released by slowly deepening the breath, flexing the fingers and toes, reaching the arms above the head, stretching the whole body, exhaling, bringing the knees to the chest and rolling over to the side in a fetal position. After a short time and a slow inhalation, the practitioner takes a seated position.

Following an asana practice ending in shavasana, the body may be in the anabolic state of metabolism during which organ and muscle repair and development is occurring. Activities requiring the body to switch back to the highly activecatabolic state of metabolism are therefore reintroduced sensitively, as the two states do not coexist well.

Savasana is the art of practicing our death,  The aim of yoga practice in daily life is to live vividly from moment to moment without being stuck in thinking or the idea of not-thinking. Wood floor, open window, blanket, cushion, t-shirt, wool socks – there is something profound just here. We are not trying to create an experience; we are making room for experience to happen. Experience, like the present moment, is always waiting for a place to happen. The architecture of savasana requires us to continually let the ground we are lying down on, literally the ground of our thoughts and our bodies, to fall away, until the constructs that frame our experience pass on. This is an act of both dying and being born. Our imagination makes us very busy exploring the world of choices. In the end, there will be no choice, just death. So in the center of your bumbling human life, where you are always looking around for something better, notice how the present moment is just a small death away.

Practice of  Shavasana

Yoga session is complete with the final pose – Savasana. The body needs this time to understand the new information it has received through practicing yoga. Even though Savasana is a resting pose, it’s not the same a sleeping! You should stay present and aware during the five to ten minute duration of final relaxation.

1. Come to lie down on the back.

2. Let the feet fall out to either side.

3. Bring the arms alongside the body, but slightly separated from the body, and turn the palms to face upwards.

4. Relax the whole body, including the face. Let the body feel heavy.

5. Let the breath occur naturally.

6. To come out, first begin to the deepen the breath. Then move the fingers and toes, awakening the body.

7. Bring the knees into the chest and roll over to one side, keep the eyes closed.

8. Slowly bring yourself back up into a sitting position.

Here are some ideas on ways to use props during savasana to make this pose more comfortable and relaxing.

Benefits of  Shavasana

After the exertions of the practice, Shavasana allows the body a chance to regroup and reset itself. After a balanced practice, the entire body will have been stretched, contracted, twisted and inverted. These means that even the deepest muscles will have the opportunity to let go and shed their regular habits, if only for a few minutes.

 the physiological benefits of deep relaxation are numerous and include

  • a decrease in heart rate and the rate of respiration.
  • a decrease in blood pressure.
  • a decrease in muscle tension.
  • a decrease in metabolic rate and the consumption of oxygen.
  • a reduction in general anxiety.
  • a reduction in the number and frequency of panic attacks.
  • an increase in energy levels and in general productivity.
  • an improvement in concentration and in memory.
  • an increase in focus.
  • a decrease in fatigue, coupled with deeper and sounder sleep.
  • improved self-confidence.
Cautions for Shavasana
  • Back injury or discomfort: Do this pose with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, hip-distance apart; either bind the thighs parallel to each other with a strap (taking care not to position the heels too close to the buttocks) or support the bent knees on a bolster.
  • Pregnancy: Raise your head and chest on a bolster.
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3 comments

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