Although it may look as easy as taking a nap, Corpse Pose (Savasana) is sometimes called the most difficult yoga pose. Being completely and totally relaxed is not what our culture does best, but complete and total relaxation is exactly what an effective Savasana requires. Savasana is not the kind of relaxation where we fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the mat, but a conscious relaxation, where we stay aware of our body’s constantly changing body processes and tensions, and allow them to release one by one.
Here are a few tips on how to relax and get the most out of your Savasana, so you can end your practice feeling totally relaxed and renewed.
1. Get comfortable
Deep relaxation cannot be rushed. Setting up properly and comfortably is crucial to getting the most out of Savasana. Listen to your body and give it a little extra support and attention wherever it needs it. Use any props that you need: put a blanket or a bolster under your knees to relax your back or place a blanket over your eyes and ears to eliminate outside distractions. Feel free to do whatever makes you feel most relaxed.
2. Relax your breath
Your breath may feel still feel quick and short after a dynamic practice, or maybe you’ve been practicing Ujjayi breath throughout your class, wherever the breath is, allow it to return to a normal, relaxed state. Breathe gently and naturally through the nose.
3. Consciously relax your body
Once you feel your breath return to normal, practice scanning throughout your body and relaxing every spot of tension you find. Unclench your jaw, relax your eyes, let go of tension in your fingers, toes, and neck, and feel your body heavy on the mat. Work from your head down, paying attention to how each spot on and inside your body feels, and relaxing anywhere that is still holding onto tension.
4. Find a focal point
Once you are completely relaxed, prevent the mind from beginning to wander by focusing it on something. Yoga teachers often guide their students to focus on their breathing and to follow their inhalations and exhalations and any sensations that arise with the breath. Other focal points that can help to concentrate the mind include repeating a relaxation mantra, for example, “let everything go,” focusing on the third eye (the space in between the eyes), or focusing on a conjured image, like a white light or a scene in nature. Whatever you choose to focus on, the method remains the same: when other thoughts or distractions pop up, simply acknowledge them, and then come back to your focal point.
5. Take your time coming out of the posture.
Rather than rushing to finish your practice and get on with your day, let the peace and relaxation you cultivated in the posture guide you out of it. Allow your movements to be slow and gentle as you sit up, continuing to stay aware of your body and breath. Finally, see if you can tap into this relaxed, Savasana state in your day to day life, bringing your practice off the mat and into the world.