It's every yogi's favorite pose. But what does Savasana actually mean, and how can you get the most out of it in your yoga practice? Savasana literally means corpse pose. It represents death. But not in a morbid way or in a sad way, either. It represents death in the same way that in the fall, trees shed their leaves. Or a snake sheds its skin, or a deer sheds its antlers. It represents a letting go in order to let in.
The Easiest & The Hardest Pose
Savasana might be the easiest pose in your yoga practice to execute, but it’s the hardest to master. What could possibly be so hard about Savasana? All you have to do is lay down right? Stillness — that’s what’s so hard. Our bodies are constantly going and going...and going. When we ask the body to stop, sometimes it doesn’t understand. When we unconsciously fidget all day, it becomes a challenge to stop for 5 -10 minutes at the end of a yoga class.
What’s going on in the mind during Savasana? Ideally nothing at all. Maybe just observing sensations and observing the breath. But what is actually happening? For most people, after a few breaths the mind begins to wander.
Our Chatty Minds
The job of the mind is to think. To negotiate and come to understand situations. To narrate your story as seen through your eyes. To judge things as good or bad, safe or unsafe, desirable or undesirable. The mind is a very useful tool when it comes to taking in information and decision making. Not so useful when it comes to finding stillness. It’s like that really smart friend that you love so dearly, but sometimes you just wish she didn’t have to dominate EVERY conversation.
Only in the case of the mind — you have the power to quiet the mind. Not so much in the case of Chatty Cathy. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice. Maybe the mind just goes on and on in directions you’d prefer it didn’t. Maybe the mind worries, or the mind judges, or ruminates, or spins in circles. If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety or depression you know that the mind can be quite the blackhole of energy.
But it doesn’t have to be. And that is the most empowering thing that you can realize.
Put Yourself in Charge
Savasana is your chance to practice taking the reins and putting yourself in charge of what happens up there. Even if only for five minutes.
The goal is not to “black out” everything or to shut the mind up. Again, the job of the mind is to think and it will likely keep on doing that. Your job is to dissociate from thought. As thoughts come up, you notice them and let them pass. Rather than following the train of thought to wherever it may lead. You can imagine Savasana like watching a train pass by. Each car of the train contains one of your thoughts. You sit in stillness as these thoughts pass, without attachment to any one thought. Even if a thought is very compelling, you stay put, rather than running beside the train to follow the thought. Eventually, maybe one of the cars passes by completely empty.
Someday maybe you’ll find a moment of stillness — a little piece of space. Even if it’s only for a few seconds. Over time these little moments of stillness get stretched into longer little moments of stillness. This is how you cultivate inner peace.
Just as a snake has to shed its skin in order to grow, we must shed our old habits in order to transform. Every time you step on your mat, you have a chance to do exactly this. A chance to let go of something that is not serving you. Attachment, aversion, unhealthy thought patterns, anything that is not helping you become the best version of yourself. Savasana reminds us to let go. We let go to create the space to let in.
Do the Work
Savasana is not the time for rest, it is where the true work happens. During the physical practice of yoga, the body generates prana or energy. When the body and mind are still, that prana has the time to sink in. Savasana gives the body time to integrate the prana you’ve created and to promote healing. Without time for integration, that energy would be dispersed and used up quickly throughout the day. Choose to be present during this integration and witness your own transformation.
Immediately after Savasana, yogis roll over into fetal position before sitting all the way up. There is a reason for this. Not only is it a gentler way to sit back up, but it is also symbolic of rebirth.
Fetal position is the way that all human beings, and most animals, begin their lives. This pose represents the chance you get to begin again every time you step on your mat. Invite in gratitude. Thank your lucky stars that you have the chance to practice yoga. Thank yourself for your commitment to your practice. Thank your teacher for their guidance. Thank someone or something. Pause and let that gratitude swell in your heart. Feel the visceral sensation of that gratitude. And then when you’re ready, slowly sit up to complete your practice.
Savasana is so much more than a break after your practice. It is sacred and necessary and it is truly the reason for your practice. If all you have time for is Savasana, take it. This is where the healing happens.
About the Author
Adriana is a yoga teacher and YogaClub Tribe Leader. Her yoga journey began at a young age and continues to inspire her every day by healing mind, body and spirit through the breath. She received her 200 Hour RYT through Frog Lotus Yoga's center, Suryalila, in Andalusia, Spain. She also trained an additional 50 hours with Heba Saab at Body Heat Hot Yoga in Las Vegas, NV. She continued training with Heba by assisting and acting as a mentor to her 200 Hour trainees. She trained with Cameron Shayne in Miami and received a 50 Hour certification in the Budokon Yoga system. She is also a certified Pilates instructor and a Reiki Level 2 practitioner. Her yoga practice has brought sweetness and authenticity into her life and her intention is to share that sweetness and help her students strive to be their own authentic selves.