Lying in Shavasana, also known as the Corpse Pose, at the end of a yoga class can be an easy place to drift away. It is said that this final posture is the most important of the entire class. We’ve all been there. Thoughts varying from “what should I have for dinner tonight?” to “who is that snoring?” with irritation or even “was that me?” It’s hard to remain mindful during this asana, yet most of the benefits come from being aware and actively refraining from falling into slumber.
So, let’s look into some of the positive benefits of this pose and how we can mindfully practice it and revitalize our whole body.
The yoga gurus of India say that Shavasana symbolizes the death of the ego and the promise of waking to an enlightened state of consciousness. After a yoga practice or even a stressful day, the practice of lying in the Corpse Pose can relax our body and mind and give us a chance to refresh and renew.
Preparing to Relax
If you are in a yoga studio, the teacher should prepare the surroundings for the relaxation. If you are practicing at home, it is helpful to remove all distractions by turning off phones and dimming the lighting. If you are afraid of falling asleep, it may also help to set an alarm.
When you have practiced a yang style of yoga such as vinyasa flow, you should aim for around 15% of your practice time to relax at the end. If you practiced a yin type of yoga, your body should already be quite relaxed and you can aim for 5%. Adjust the timing as you feel necessary, as part of the goal of the posture is to become more aware of our bodies energy.
Take care to keep warm. Use a blanket, add an extra layer even if you feel hot, your body will cool significantly as you relax.
For extra comfort, you may wish to add a bolster under your knees. This is especially beneficial for those that have lower back pain. The more comfortable you feel, the easier you will find it to relax.
- Lie down on your mat and lengthen your body, making sure your neck is long.
- Tense up your fingers and toes, and scrunch up your face.
- As you exhale, let everything go and sink into the mat.
- Focus your attention on your breath.
- While inhaling, feel the breath flow through your body and try to imagine healing energies flowing through your veins.
- While exhaling, let go of stored tension and relax.
- Pay attention to each part of your body. It can be useful to start with your toes and work your way through each part of your body until you reach the top of your head.
- As you notice each limb, check to see if it is relaxed or if there is any stored tension.
- When the time has come to an end, start moving your hands and feet slowly.
- You may wish to stretch out your arms above your head and make your body as long as possible.
- When you are ready, turn and lie on your right side.
- Slowly make your way up to sitting, and finish with some meditation or pranayama breathing.
- Another great way to finish is to set an intention for your new and refreshed body and mind.
- As they would say in India, your old body has just ‘died’ and been born again.