Why Savasana Is The Most Important Pose
When I first started yoga, I never stayed for savasana.
Sacrilegious I know, but my sixteen-year-old self had no desire to lie on a thin gym mat atop smelly carpet listening to the grunts of people pumping iron next door.
That changed as soon as I began practicing in a studio. Savasana on a plush mat surrounded by swirls of soft incense and a Tibetan singing bowl is a transcendent experience.
Being asked to contribute to an article in Stuff titled Relaxing Yoga: Five Restorative Poses got me thinking about the often forgotten Savasana. We don’t dedicate half as much time to the anatomical nuances of the posture as others, in part because (for me at least), I like to create an empty space for the magic of Savasana to happen.
My first teacher used to say that during Savasana your body integrates all the information from your practice. Our body absorbs the food we eat to build our muscles, organs, and tissues. It takes in hours spent at the computer by developing rounded shoulders and tight hip flexors. Lying in a neutral, prone position after an hour of physical asana (postures) allows time to embody the benefits.
Translated to English, Savasana means Corpse Pose. When we’re lying flat on our backs, eyes closed, palms facing the ceiling, we couldn’t be doing much less unless we were one; and that’s where the challenge lies.
Our mind likes to move around. It jumps from topic to topic like that proverbial monkey swinging through the trees, using its long, curly tail to grasp each branch like it was the latest story. When we lie or sit still, it often feels like we are ‘doing nothing’, and we resist it.
But doing nothing is kinda the point.
With the body in a relaxed, neutral state, the parasympathetic nervous system (our ‘rest and digest’ mode) is activated.
As well as improving sleep, decreasing blood pressure, and alleviating stress and fatigue, Savasana calms the mind.
We give ourselves the time (whether one minute or twenty) at the end of our yoga practice to release ‘the doing’ and take it all in.
If the temptation to skip Savasana arises, remind yourself there’s equal opportunity for yoga magic in both Savasana and handstand.
Both postures take practice.