I remember reading once about a guy who had traveled the whole world. He said “after India, everywhere else is plain vanilla.” Savasana or Relaxation Pose is like that. After practicing it, every other pose is plain vanilla. That’s not to say that the other poses aren’t wonderful. But Savasana is tops, the one everyone looks forward to at the end of the class. Sava means ‘corpse’ in Sanskrit and the idea is that you lie completely motionless on the floor like a corpse. Inside, in the person, however, enormous changes are taking place. When the body is stilled, the breath can be controlled. When the breath is under our control, we can calm the mind. When the mind is calmed, it can then be turned inwards. Thus, begins the journey to the Self. It is what Yoga is all about. The more often you take this journey, the more you will be transformed.

How does Savasana work?

On a physical level, Savasana allows the body to replenish itself after doing other Yoga positions. It is the best pose for the release of physical tension. It also gives the body a chance to stabilize the pulse rate, blood pressure and chemical balance.

On a mental level, Relaxation Pose allows the sensory mind to switch off and take a break from our endless thoughts and emotions. The mind can then return to its natural state of clarity and stillness.

On an intellectual level, the intellect also known as buddhi, is brought to a state of heightened awareness. This occurs when the body and sensory mind are calm.

On a spiritual level, the inner Self or consciousness can emerge. This can only happen when the body, breath and mind are calm and the intellect is alert. This is why Savasana is such a difficult position, because a lot of discipline is needed to bring these changes about. However, when you are there, that experience of your inner Self cannot be put into words. Afterwards, people just glow.

How to practice Savasana:

  • Practice the pose at the end of your yoga session. Dim the lights in the room if possible.
  • Lie down on your mat with your arms down by your sides and with the knees bent. Cover yourself with a blanket.
  • Clasp your hands around the back of the head and lift it off the floor. Begin to lengthen your neck by slowly sliding the hands over the back of the head towards the crown. When you feel you have released the neck to its maximum, replace your head carefully on the floor.
  • Lift your hips off the floor, and press down into the soles of the feet to lengthen the lower back. Replace the hips back down on the floor again. (If you can easily slide your hand into the small of your back, there is too much of a curve. Place a rolled up blanket under your knees.)
  • Stretch out your legs one at a time. Inhale, exhale and let both feet fall out to the sides.
  • Lift your right shoulder off the floor. Inhale, broaden it out to the side as much as possible. Exhale, and replace it on the floor. Repeat on the left shoulder.
  • Focus now on the points where your body makes contact with the floor: the heels, the backs of the legs, the back of the pelvis, the shoulder blades, the backs of the arms and the back of the head. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale, settle those points of contact into the floor.
  • Begin now to focus on your breath…. Soften the inner ears and listen to the sound of your breath….Don’t interfere with it in anyway….Just be content to observe and listen….Start now to be very interested in the out-breath….Every time you exhale, allow it to be a little longer, a little slower….Encourage the back to soften and to settle into the floor….As you inhale, think of breathing in light, energy….As you exhale, release any tiredness or aches and pains into the floor beneath you….Focus now on your right hand….Place your thumb in the centre of the palm and close the fingers around it….Inhaling, tense up your hand….Exhale and release the tension….Inhale and tense up the hand again, this time letting the tension travel up the entire length of the arm right into the shoulder….Exhale, and release….Repeat on the left arm….Focus next on your right foot….Inhaling, turn the toes in towards the sole of the foot….Exhaling, release the foot completely….Tense up the foot again as you inhale, letting the tension move up the length of the leg right into the hip….Exhale, and release the tension….Repeat on the left leg….Focus on the abdomen….Imagine inhaling into this area, breathing in light and energy….Exhale, and allow the abdomen to sink back towards the lower back….Inhale, now into the chest area, filling it with light and energy….Exhale, and allow the lungs to rest back towards the upper back….Inhaling, raise your shoulders as high as possible….Exhaling, drop them again….Inhale, and scrunch up your entire face….Exhale, and release it again….Now, in your mind’s eye, see yourself lying on the floor still, calm, relaxed…..Bask in this feeling for a few moments……
  • Imagine now, a pool of golden light below your feet….Draw this light towards you and wrap yourself up all over in the light….When you get to the top of your head, fasten the light securely with a bow and visualize placing yourself in a lead box….Place a dome on the top of the box….See yourself surrounded by light feeling very safe and protected….
  • Start now to become very interested in your in-breath….Make each new inhalation a little stronger than the previous one….Start to wriggle your fingers and toes….Think of becoming more alert with each new breath….The next time you inhale, take the arms behind you and rest them on the floor….Then clasp the hands together and inhale, stretching the arms behind you….Think of drawing all your energy back into the centre of the body and exhale very firmly, pushing the energy down behind the navel area….Repeat twice more. (Check that you feel thoroughly grounded after doing this exercise. REPEAT until you do.)
  • Roll over onto your side for a few moments….Then keeping the neck relaxed, use your hands and your chest and shoulder muscles to bring you back up to sitting. Keep the head bent slightly forwards and the eyes closed.
  • Rub the palms of the hands briskly for a few moments…Place them over your eyes….Open the eyes and look into soothing darkness….Repeat twice more….
  • Gradually, taking the hands away from the eyes, open them and brush off the back of your neck, and then the rest of the body.

CAUTION: If you suffer from epilepsy, practice the position SITTING UP against a wall. If you are pregnant, you can lie on your side with a cushion between your knees to give you more comfort.