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5 Reasons Not to Skip Savasana

June 29, 2011

Say it out loud: Savasana. Savaahhhsana. How great is it that the Sanskrit name for the ultimate restorative yoga pose has that delicious, yawning ahhh sound we associate with relaxation and release?

If you’ve been to a yoga class, you know that Savasana is usually the final pose that closes out the practice. The teacher might dim the lights; there might be relaxing music, or not. You lie back on your mat, with your legs straight out and your arms out toward the edges of your mat, palms facing skyward. After having worked on moving and breathing the entire class, your body comes to neutral in this pose, allowing your muscles and mind to melt into complete relaxation.

And yet: Does your mind often begin to wander during this period of rest, and you find yourself unable to relax? Have you ever rolled up your mat and ducked out of class during Savasana, in a rush to get back to your day? Do you shorten or skip this pose altogether when practicing at home?

If you answered yes to any of these questions—it’s okay! We’ve all done it. Corpse Pose might not be physically challenging, but it can be mentally challenging at times. Completely surrendering isn’t easy, especially when so many of us are accustomed to being “plugged in” 24/7. But here’s why, next time, you should consider trying to get the most out of this supremely beneficial pose:

1) It’s uninterrupted “Me Time.” How often, throughout your day, do you wish you had five minutes alone to recharge? Well, here it is. Give yourself a gift and let yourself fully sink into the pose, releasing all your muscles and letting the firm floor/ground below be your support. Try to be as present as possible, focusing on your soft breath. When distracting thoughts enter your mind, don’t despair; acknowledge them, then let them go. Think of yourself as a well; Savasana is your opportunity to refill with cool, delicious, nourishing water.

2) It’s an awesome stress reliever. Stress is the root cause of many health problems, and it wears us down physically as well as emotionally. The body holds onto stress in the form of tension, but you can counteract this by sending a mental “search and destroy” team through your body at the start of Savasana. Scan your body from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes, looking for hidden tension. When you find it, relax that area. Consciously let go of tension internally, too: Release and relax your jaw and neck, softening the root of your tongue, the backs of your eyes, the bridge of your nose, even the insides of your ears. Feel the skin on your brow and cheeks melt toward the floor. Let the tension evaporate from your pores.

3) It’s a chance to be at peace. After your body scan, smile inwardly to yourself. Feel what it’s like to be totally, completely surrendered to the moment. Allow yourself to feel at peace. Many teachers consider Savasana to be the most important of all yoga poses, because it allows the mind and body to seal in all the wonderful benefits of yoga.

4) It’s a chance to connect with your breath. We hardly ever pay attention to our breathing throughout the day; it’s something we take for granted. And yet, our breath is a powerful tool to help us relax. (Ever notice how your breath becomes shallow when you’re upset or stressed out?) Savasana gives us a chance to focus on our breathing. Let your breath be light, effortless and natural; feel how it nourishes your body and quiets the mind.

5) Its benefits will carry over into the rest of your day. It’s generally suggested that we stay in Savasana for about five minutes for every half hour of yoga practice. Come out of Savasana slowly, waking up your body with gentle movements and lifting your head last, always supporting the neck. (Sometimes it’s easier to roll over onto your side in a semi-fetal position first.) Once you’re fully out of the pose, you should feel rejuvenated, like a battery that’s just been recharged. When stresses pop up out there in the Real World, remember that feeling of total relaxation; you might even take a minute to close your eyes and consciously relax inner tension, the way you did during Savasana.

 

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