Savasana; An Inquiry
Posted on June 2nd 2018
During my yoga teacher training, each student was assigned a pose to give a final presentation on upon the completion of the training. I was given Savasana. AKA Corpse pose. The easiest pose of them all… or so I thought.
With this pose I wanted to approach it from a really elementary perspective of what is Savasana. Its essentially the only pose that is guaranteed to be in every single yoga class, regardless of the style or type of class. So, it has this really strong unifying power that says this is yoga, and I think that’s really important. Yet, I regularly find that this pose rarely taught in class. Typically, the dialogue goes something like, “lie all the way down and rest in Savasana” or “come onto your backs into your final resting pose, Savasana”. During Savasana its easy for a practitioner to just lie there letting their mind wander, unsure if they are doing the pose correctly or not. Maybe they’re thinking about their next meal or maybe they are singing the same song to themselves over and over. Maybe they can’t see the value of the pose so much so that they’re frustrated that this pose is even part of class.
I think initially I used to think a lot that Savasana was about really being in the moment, here and now. We think about all of the places we exist and how many ways there are to be present in this world. Having moved around so much, most of the people that are close to me are all over the world and I don’t get to see them on a regular basis. But I find other ways to see them. My sister graces my day in the form of a song, my brother smiles at me when I wear my favorite necklace. My Dad is my breath when it’s calm and steady, my Mom is the wind. My best friend manifests herself every morning that I cook breakfast.
And so, I think I spend a lot of time existing in other places of my life. My internal voice is thinking about my ex or dreaming about my life in the future. So, I used to think Savasana was about being here and now. While, thats not exactly wrong, Savasana is so much more than that, that when done properly, it cultivates a sense of timelessness. As said by Iyengar, “the slightest thought or movement will break the spell and you are once more in the world of time, with a beginning and an end”. So, as you can see its not even about be “here and now” because those have constraints within themselves, but really its about really truly resting and stilling the mind.
As such, I’ve done a “deep dive” into Savasana and have compiled all of my Iyengar materials to come up with a workshop for a really great Savasana. Because we all deserve to rest… since it’s difficult to facilitate workshops through a blog post, here’s a list of cues to aid your own rest:
- Start seated with you knees back and center yourself exactly
- Lie down vertebrea by vertabrea
- Adjust the head from the front and feel it from the back
- Pin the apex of each shoulder blade to the floor
- Move flesh and skin from back of waist towards buttocks
- Join heels, knees, crotch, spinal column, and base of skull to rest in a straight line
- If hardness is felt in the arms or in the trunk of the back, spread the arms to the level of the shoulders
- First, keep the feet together and stretch the outer edges of the heels. Then, let the feet fall outwards evenly
- If you have stif legs, move feet a yard apart to keep back rested on the floor
- Create space between the eyebrows by moving the upper lids towards the inner corners of the eye. Turn your gaze inward
- Release tension
- If the head tilts up, the mind dwells in the future, if down, it broods in the past. If it leans to one side, the inner-ear follows and you fall asleep. Keep the mind level so the mind remains present.
- Do not disturb your elbow points and keep arms at a 45 degree angle
- Modifications are available