Many yoga classes conclude in Savasana, the Sanskrit word for corpse, “Sava” and pose, “asana,” a deceptively simple practice of lying on the ground. The act of holding still both in body and mind is a sizeable departure from the constant stream of stimulation and activity we’ve become accustomed to. It is for this reason that vigorous physical asana practice can often be the best precursor to corpse pose—a bait and switch if you will—as we lure the body into a state of rest by way of effortfully tiring it in preparation.
Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, a pioneer of modern yoga, used to instruct his students to rest in corpse pose in an act of reverence for the fact that we die a little every day. Students are trained to experience death, the ultimate letting go, so that they can then be reborn.
To fully embody savasana, one is neither conscious or unconscious, awake or asleep, resisting or persisting—but instead in the precious state that lies between, one that is effortless and at ease. One of our favorite ways to practice Savasana is with the support of an aromatherapeutic blend where scent acts as a rope, guiding you deeper into the cave of serenity by way of your breath.
How to practice:
- Set up the conditions for minimal distraction, i.e. lower the lights, music, and blinds
- (Optional) Massage lotion into your temples, behind the ears, and along the neck (even better if someone else does this for you)
- Lie down on your back, ideally on a mat or flat surface
- Allow your feet to splay open, your arms to rest by your sides with your palms facing up, and blink your eyes to a close
- Scan your body from your toes to your head, searching for any remaining tension and releasing the area you’re gripping, i.e. your abdomen or your jaw
- Allow your breath to occur naturally and let gravity do the work as your body heavies further into the ground
- As thoughts or emotions arise, do your best to dismiss them without judgment, returning to the present moment again and again
- When your Savasana is complete, invite yourself back to the present moment by noticing your breath, moving mindfully, and proceeding with intention