Give it a Rest!

“The stresses of modern civilisation are a strain on the nerves, for which Savasana is the best antidote.”  –  Light on Yoga

Light on yoga makes an ambitious claim for savasana, and it may well be true.  More than the nap-time that always comes at the end play period, this integrating and restorative pose has the potential to be one of the best poses for us in a yoga practice.  Here are 7 tips from our teachers on how to get the most out of your savasana.

1. When I first began practicing yoga, I remember laying in Savasana barely able to keep my eyes closed, let alone settle my breath or mind.  I made lists and plans for what I was going to do after class.  My class was over, I thought, and I was wasting precious time just laying on the floor.  In my mind, I had already moved on and quite often I was actually filled with annoyance.  “How long had I been here and how much longer would I be?”  The minutes ticked by at a painfully slow rate.  I remember feeling frustrated that this was supposed to be so relaxing, like I was missing out on the “best part of yoga” as my friends would say.  One day, I was in class and the teacher described Savasana as a gift.  This was not the way I would describe it at all but with no immediate plans after class I thought I’d give it a try.  I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of my breath.  I heard other sounds of people breathing around me, the cars outside and the hum of the heater.  I noticed these sounds and then came back to my breath.  At first it as like a dance between two opposing forces one taking me away one leading me home to my breath.  Then something happened….I softened.  It was as simple and as complex as that.  I allowed myself to let go and breath not just to stay centered but as an offering.  Savasana shifted for me that day and through the years my relationship with that final pose has deepened.  Savasana has taught me to totally open to whatever arises.  It has become a pose where I can truly practice releasing the periphery, the limited ideas I hold for myself, and allow my true self to shine out.   Savasana has shifted from a sleepy, disconnected, unconscious time to a period of full awareness of the deepest parts of myself.  It is a gift.  A time of assimilation of the practice and a time of transition to the outer activities of my life.  …Nikki

2. Savasana,  this pose can be the only time in the day to completely relax for some people the only time ever. Your body is in sleep as your mind is alert. sleep time for me is tossing, sweating, dreaming, snoring and sometimes having conversations…but not in savasana. This is pure bliss if you allow for it. Make sure you are really warm and comfortable….Kim

3. Savasana, for some, as I have witnessed over the years,  is one of the most difficult postures  to do.   A reason some people ‘keep busy’ is to avoid awareness of what is  truly going on for them.   Which is why being quiet (sensory withdrawal) without movement can be uncomfortable, a trigger.  So what to do to get the most out of Savasana.   As a Yoga Teacher, create and hold  the intention of a safe space,  to allow the mind to feel free, not judged and focus on the breathe.  I often tell my students in that moment to give themselves “thanks”, fore it takes courage to be your true self and to honor yourselves for creating the  this time in the name of  ‘yoga’.  …Stacey

4. Savasana, I like to call it the dessert of yoga practice.  The whole meal has been lovely and nourishing and the ending is so delicious.  Truly allowing a surrender into Not-Doing, into simple Being can be quite a challenge at times.  The planning, busy mind might start in with the to-do list and other concerns.  And then, the great possibility and the great relief:  as awareness recognizes the thoughts arising, we can let go of our hold on them and just let them pass by without analysis or comment and we can just rest. …Fay

5. Make sure you’re comfortable.  I know that seems redundant, but often for the sake of the pose “looking right”, people will lie down in a way that’s no fun for their low backs.  If you feel this pose in your low back, plant your feet on the mat or use blocks or a bolster under your knees to relieve any pressure. If you have trouble settling in the pose, take a minute or so to focus exclusively on your exhale.  A conscious exhalation downregulates the body, and makes it easier to settle into rest. …Pat

6. Try this experiment.  The next time you get vigorous exercise – running, going to the gym, tennis, walking, whatever it is for you, followed by your warm-down stretch – end the session with savasana.  Let this restorative, integrating savasana last for 10-15% of your total workout time (so if you swim for an hour, do savasana for 6-9 minutes.)  Observe how you feel immediately afterward, later that day, and the following day.  Does it feel different than usual?…Mid

7. I’ve heard it referred to as the most challenging of the yoga postures and for me personally this is true. What helps me get the most out of the posture is to remember that, like all the other asanas that have come before, it’s a posture as well and therefore needs to be approached in the same way and with full attention and intention. We need to find both sthira and sukha, effort and ease, steadiness and comfort, in the pose instead of just thinking of it as the opportunity to simply relax at the end of class after all our hard work. It’s an opportunity to practice steadiness without motion while finding complete ease in the mind and body. This is the ideal balance for all asanas according to Sutra II.46 (Posture should be steady and comfortable) and Savasana gives us an opportunity to truly practice this while the body is completely still…Tam

  1. Denise Naughton says:

    All the comments were great. I especially loved what Fay wrote, “Savasana, I like to call it the dessert of yoga practice. The whole meal has been lovely and nourishing and the ending is so delicious.” I love that line. For me, dessert is the best part of any meal; therefore, there is no wonder why Savasana has always been my favorite pose!

Post your comment here