Savasana (corpse pose) is a challenging pose for many of us. On first glance, it looks easy. We lie down to sleep or rest all the time. Once you do it, though, you see how difficult it can be to maintain stillness in body and mind. Thoughts about dinner, phone calls, work, and more start clamoring for attention. Impulses surface: to wipe away a bead of sweat, to move a damp strand of hair, to wiggle your fingertips. People around you get up and roll their mats – you wonder if you should too. Maybe a parent or childhood teacher’s voice echoes through your mind, saying it’s lazy to lie around when you have so much work to do. Savasana is difficult – and very, very important.
In savasana, our bodies integrate and assimilate what we have just practiced. It’s like sleep after study. Your memory encodes information during sleep, so you remember material you learn better after a good night’s sleep than an all-night cram session. Your mind and body need savasana to internalize the benefits of your asana practice. Some lessons process at an unconscious level. Some stress stored in the body is still regaining its equilibrium.
In savasana, we let go of any particular breathing technique and simply allow the breath to move through its inherent inhaling and exhaling pattern. As the breath finds its way through the open channels of the body, the mind does so as well, by weaving itself into the strands of thought and sensation that flow through the body. When the breath is free, the mind is free. When the breath is allowed to move naturally, the mind settles into itself. When the mind relaxes, the tongue and palette become spacious, the roof of the mouth lifts and hollows and the central core of the body opens.
The aim of yoga practice in daily life is to live vividly from moment to moment without being stuck in thinking or the idea of not-thinking. Wood floor, open window, blanket, cushion, t-shirt, wool socks — there is something profound just here. The architecture of savasana requires us to continually let the ground we are lying down on, literally the ground of our thoughts and our bodies, to fall away, until the constructs that frame our experience pass on.
Stillness after practice strengthens your mind-body-spirit connection. Those few extra moments of harmony refresh you so it isn’t a shock to your system when you meet the outside world again. Your inner peace is more resilient because you allowed it to grow roots.
Your yogic discipline becomes stronger too. Holding a pose is easier when your teacher is watching and you’re surrounded by others in the same pose. It’s easy to get up and walk away when no one is looking. Resisting distractions and maintaining your practice strengthen your will and discipline.
Take some time for yourself at the end of every class to practice savasana. Lying around might be the most important thing you do all day.