Savasana - Dead body pose
Sanskrit words shava (शव, Śava) meaning "corpse" and asana (आसन, Āsana) meaning "posture" or "seat."
It is a posture that simulates a dead body, and its meaning is relaxation, therefore, recuperation. It is not just laying down on the yoga mat with fluctuations of the mind, nor is it falling asleep. Savasana is often used at the end of a yoga session but is also in between other postures. You might hear this is the most difficult asana, and it might be, but it is also one of the most rewarding and refreshing ones.
A correct Savasana demands perfect discipline, though it is easy to relax for a few minutes lying down. But to do so without any physical movements or fluctuations of the mind can be very challenging.
When Savasana is practiced right, the breath moves freely and flows in and out of the nose. The body, the breath, the mind, and the brain move toward the real self (Atma). At this time, a state of samahita chitta (serenity of the mind, the intellect, and the self) is known.
Then the chitta (that is, manas, or ego, which is the state that ascertains that 'I know') becomes samahita chitta, in which the mind, the intellect, and the ego are balanced. This is a state of stillness.
This state is achieved by discipline controlling the body, the senses, and the mind. The attention is focused on keeping the consciousness (chitta) still (dharana), whereas in silence, that attention is expanded and released (dhyana), and the will is submerged in the Atma.
This subtle distinction between stillness and silence can be known only by experience. In savasana, the attempt is to achieve silence in all the five states or kosas: the annamaya (anatomical), the Pranamaya (physiological, the manomaya (mental or emotional), the vijftanamaya (intellectual), and the anandamaya (the body of bliss), which covers the person from the skin to the self.
First, learn to still the body. Then control the small movements of the breath. Next, learn about the silence of the mind, emotions, and intellect. From there, proceed to learn and study the silence of the Self. It is not until then that the practitioner's ego or small self (ahamkara) can merge with his self (Atman). The fluctuations of the mind and the intellect cease, the 'I' or ego goes, and Savasana gives an experience of complete bliss.
Step by step
Time and place
- Start by removing any tight or uncomfortable clothing
- Choose a calm spot and roll out your yoga mat or a blanket. Avoid any uneven surface, hard floor, or soft mattress.
- Switch off all devices that can interrupt your savasana and set a timer for 10-15 minutes. Choose a soft signal to sound at the end. Coming out of it quietly and calmly is an important part of the practice.
- Savasana is performed lying down on the back in a straight line
- Sit in the middle of your mat with your knees bent. Imagine a line running the length of your mat in the exact center. Use this imaginary line to lay down in a balanced and straightway. Gradually lower yourself onto this imaginary line, vertebra by vertebra, until you are on your back with your knees bent.
- Press the feet on the floor and lift the hips, and with your hands, move the flesh from the back of the waist down towards the buttocks.
- Then extend first one leg and then the other. Heels and knees together. The heels, knees, crotch, coccyx, spinal column, and skull base should rest exactly on a straight line.
- Make sure that the dorsal and lumbar areas of the spine rest evenly on either side and that the ribs spread out evenly. It is common that people do not rest evenly on both buttocks but rest on one of them. Rest the center of the sacrum on the floor so that the buttocks relax evenly.
- Keep the feet and heels together and let the feet relax outwards evenly and fully after your feet' natural range of motion. Do not force the little toes to touch the floor.
- Practitioners with stiff legs may keep their feet up to a yard apart, enabling them to keep their backs on the floor. Keep the back outer corner of the knees touching the floor. If they cannot rest, use a folded blanket or bolster behind them. If the legs do not feel relaxed, you can place weights such as sandbags on the upper thighs. This removes tension in the muscles and keeps the legs quiet.
- Move the hands away from the body, forming an angle of fifteen to twenty degrees at the armpits. Stretch the elbows as far as you can towards the feet. Keep the whole upper arms with the outer edges of the shoulders and elbows on the floor. Extend the hands from the wrists to the knuckles, palms facing upwards.
- Keep the fingers passive and relaxed, with the backs of the middle fingers touching the floor up to the first knuckles. See that the arms, elbows, wrists, and palms are in contact with the floor. If the arms are kept close to the body, the body does not rest properly, and uneasiness is felt in the arms or the muscles of the trunk at the back, spread the arms to shoulder level. The feeling of lying on the floor should be like the body is sinking into Mother Earth.
Removal of Tension
- First, learn to relax the back of the body from the trunk to the neck, arms, and legs. Next, relax the front of the body from the pubis to the throat, where emotional changes occur, and then from the neck to the crown of the head. In this way, learn to relax the entire body.
- Learn to still the tissues of the physical body before dealing with the mind. The whole physical body should be controlled before one proceeds to quieten the complex mental and intellectual bodies.
- Getting the body's stillness is the first necessity, and it is the first sign of achieving spiritual serenity. There is no freeing of the mind unless there is a feeling of calmness in all parts of the body. Stillness in the body will bring silence to mind.
- The eyes: A relaxed gaze is important, Not eyes wide shut nor completely open. Close eyelids so much that a small amount of light can pass through and look inward.
- The Ears: Ears are quiet and open.
- The Tounge: Tounge is relaxed in the bottom of the mouth
- Normal inhale with a soft exhale, deep, long, and without strain to calm the nervous system. Let the breath flow freely without trying to manipulate it.
- The intention in savasana is to keep the body at rest, the breathing being passive, while the mind and intellect are gradually cleansed. When fluctuations occur internally and externally, mental and intellectual energies are wasted.
Coming out of practice
- When it is time, take your time. Slowly blink your eyes open and roll over to one side with a still, soft gaze, stay the for a minute or two, and gradually come to a seated position.
Enjoy this state for as long as possible.