Yoga Siesta

Lying down and relaxing sounds so simple, but Savasana (corpse pose) can be a challenging part of your Yoga practice because it requires your full attention. When your body is still, your mind can become distracted. The mind loves to skip into the future, planning activities and making lists of things to do.

According to meditation teacher Sally Kempton

“…the ordinary mind, liked an untrained puppy, will always try to dart away from stillness, from sinking inward, from being present.”

Another obstacle to a satisfying relaxation pose is exhaustion. Collapsing with exhaustion is not the same thing as practicing relaxation! Falling asleep in Savasana could be a sign that you are sleep deprived, and that you need to spend time in this lovely pose more often.

Savasana concludes most Yoga sessions. In this basic relaxation pose you observe your breath and allow your body to relax completely. This conscious relaxation of mind and body allows you to fully absorb and maximise the benefits of the asana practice. It allows you to create a cellular memory of the postures, and by letting go of tension you reduce the chance of muscle soreness.

Practicing Savasana regularly can bring about physiological changes in the body, which help to reduce every measurable indicator of stress. Restorative postures create an opportunity to return from doing to simply being. Initially you may need the guidance of the teacher to remind you to return to the breath each time you drift off. You will learn to scan your body for any tension or holding you can let go of. With practice, you will find it progressively easier to drop into the relaxation soon after you lie down.

Setting up

There are many versions of Savasana, including lying flat on the floor in the basic pose, as well as various supported options using blankets and bolsters. Your teacher will usually choose a variation that works well with the rest of the sequence you have worked through in class, but you are always free to choose for yourself once you are familiar with the options.

The position of your head is crucial in any variation of Savasana. Keep in mind that the forehead needs to be a little higher than the chin, as if you are glancing down along your body. This position of the head will help to quiet your mind and take your focus inward. It will also help you to soften and relax the throat and neck. Any support under the head should lightly touch your shoulders, so that the neck is fully supported.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you are trying to minimise distractions as you settle in, so it’s important to create symmetry in the body and to be comfortable. Ensure your arms are equidistant from the line of your spine, and that your legs are too. Create length in your lower back by extending your tailbone towards your feet. Removing your watch, glasses and jewellery will help you prepare to let go mentally as well as physically.

Letting go

Savasana is more than an opportunity to let go on a physical level. Corpse pose is so named because it allows you to die to your old habits, your negative self images, your obligations, your problems, and your opinions. As your attachment to the physical body is relinquished, what is left behind is that which is at the core of your being, your true Self.

~article by Kelly Fisher and Lynda Miers-Henneveld

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