Shavasana, or corpse pose, is the relaxation pose that comes at the end of our yoga practice. Due to studio time constraints, more teachers are cutting shavasana short. Busier lives means some students have to rush for the door early, skipping this essential relaxation. It is often these people who can benefit most from it. In today’s high paced and over stimulated society, many people have forgotten how to relax.
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What is Shavasana?
Shavasana appears to be one of the simplest postures, but many students often find it the most challenging. After we have moved through a series of asanas, or physical poses, the body needs time to consolidate and rebalance. In shavasana, the body can fully relax. With the palms face up and the arms and legs at approximately a 45 degree angle from the body, the joints are able to relax in their sockets. This also temporarily frees our muscles from the physical stress of supporting all of our bones and organs.
Benefits of Shavasana
Shavasana has many physical benefits.
Some of which include:
- Improved sleep
- Nervous system recovery
- Decreases blood pressure and heart rate
- Release of lactic acid build up
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced acute & chronic stress
- Improved concentration
- Increased energy levels
- A stronger immune system
Bringing awareness inward
Shavasana is not just a time to nap, it is a meditation. What makes it so challenging is that it requires us to relax while remaining aware and conscious. It is an excellent tool to increase awareness of your body, which in turn can also strengthen your yoga practice. During shavasana we systematically bring our awareness through our physical body, acknowledging any tensions and releasing them. Once the physical body is relaxed we shift our awareness to the mind.
The eyes are closed to limit sensory distractions and allow us to turn our awareness inward. Focusing on the natural rhythm of the breath is an excellent way to keep the focus on the present moment, preventing it from running away with the stories the mind wants to tell.
Still not convinced?
It is important to allow ourselves to relax, especially after a yoga class when we have just worked our physical body. Yoga is more than just a physical experience of asanas; it is a union, through breath and meditation, of our physical body, spiritual body and our minds. Shavasana is meditation, it is a time for the chatter of our mind and the stories we tell ourselves to dissolve. To focus inward, to visualize, dream and to surrender. You may be surprised what happens when you do.
International Journal of Yoga article: Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life