Maybe it’s the time of year with Halloween and the Day of the Dead upon us, but I thought this might be a convenient time to share a little love for Corpse Pose, a.k.a. Savasana. That may sound funny since corpses often get a negative rep, something about the link to death I suspect. Yet, all kidding aside, every culture has its own way of honoring death, from solemn remembrance to optimistic celebration of the former life. So death doesn’t always have a negative connotation. Rather, it can be viewed as another essential chapter in our life cycle, much like birth.
Which brings me back to Savasana. For people new to yoga, something called a corpse pose may not sound inviting at first and not just because of the name. When I started practicing yoga, I couldn’t understand why we would lay down before the end of class. Most of my instructors were adamant that this was an absolutely necessary part of the practice, but I thought it was a waste of time. I vaguely remember a few times when I left class just before Savasana so that I could squeeze in an extra five minutes on the treadmill instead.
Then I didn’t realize that I was missing out by leaving class early. Savasana, I’ve since learned, has some pretty awesome benefits that help rejuvenate mind, body and spirit like no other pose. So if you’re like my former self when it comes to this pose, here are 3 reasons to rethink your opinion about corpses.
1. You get to fully relax
If there is one thing that corpses know how to do it’s let go, right? In a yoga practice, you’ve just stimulated your body by exploring movements and shapes that you don’t typically do off the mat. So it’s smart to give your body some time to rest and reset after all of that activity, in other words, let go. When you lie down for a significant period of time, your body can start to release unconscious tension. And because it’s the end of practice, you rest a little more unreservedly because you don’t have to do anything. Ideally, Savasana lasts for 20-30 minutes to more fully realize its benefits, but with modern day schedules being what they are, 5-10 minutes are better than nothing. Ultimately, it’s nice to be in the pose long enough so your body gets a chance to absorb the residual effects of your practice and recharge.
2. You get to be YOU
At the end of class, you’re on your back with your eyes closed in a room full of people in the same position. Hopefully, this helps you realize you’ve got no one to impress by how perfect your pose looks and no one to distract you by their variation of the pose. In Savasana, you’re urged to surrender all the effort it takes to move or act in a prescribed way and instead just be as you are. You have permission to just BE without any conditionals. This is a time that invites you to set aside judgment or deep analysis of yourself or others so that you can be present more fully to yourself physically and emotionally.
3. You get to wipe your slate clean
Not only does Savasana give you an opportunity to relax and reset your body, but you get to relax and reset your mind, too. Whether it’s making peace with whatever might have been frustrating you in your practice or any concerns you had before you stepped on your mat, spending 5 or 10 minutes with no agenda, can have a pretty calming effect on the brain. And when you relieve your mental stress, you feel much more rejuvenated and centered, which ultimately, better prepares you for the next adventure when you leave the yoga room. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean the issues or frustrations go away, but it will at least give you an opportunity to approach them later with fresh eyes and renewed resolve.
Savasana or Dessert-asana
Ultimately, without Savasana putting a break between practice and your next tasks after class, you might feel somewhat disoriented, even unsettled, like you’ve left the movie 10 minutes before it ended. Think of Savasana as your healthy dessert, something that offers a nice conclusion to one experience and leaves you feeling more prepared for the next moment whatever that may be. Plus, there’s no feeling of regret with this sweet! Enjoy!