Shavasana After Asana!
Updated: Sep 12
Yes, its true Shivasana also known as Mrtasana is vital after your physical yoga practice.
This part of the Yoga practice can be the most challenging part of the master. I see it with my very own eyes in class. Students make little excuses that they have to leave at relaxation for one thing or another. But this isn't the time to go. This is the time to explore yourself deeper and master the mind of this challenging section of the practice until it becomes a place of comfort. Just like we do the poses and to begin with, they can be a little uncomfortable over time the asanas we perform become supported by the universe!
Shivasana can be extremely difficult due to us lying down and trying to quieter everything especially the wandering mind. Most people struggle to begin with when attempting relaxation (so your not alone if this is you); this is quite normal due to the stresses we are surrounded with in day-to-day life. Our mind is being pulled all over the place with different challenges, tasks and demands from moment to moment outside of yoga class and to train the mind to be still is a task in itself, to begin with.
So how do we begin to master this section of the practice? The first thing is we DO NOT beat our self up when our mind wanders, our regular yoga practice will itself make it more accessible and more comfortable for us when we enter relaxation, and our mind will become more and more still over time. Our yoga practice starts the one pointed concentration due to our postures and the following of the breath during Asana work, so when we come to rest over time the mind will naturally begin to quieter, but you will have odd days where it won't (after all sometimes we have more things on our mind).
When you first begin, and you struggle with lots of thoughts in Shavasana if the teacher isn't guiding you through relaxation or visualisation then bring your awareness to your breath, watch it, do not change it just watch, and if your mind drifts bring your awareness back to your breath again gently. Remember there is no right and wrong and don't judge yourself or be disappointed if the mind wanders, you should praise yourself for just being at class in the first place.
Shavasana = Sava = dead; also know as corpse pose requires you to lie on your back, legs a comfortable distance apart with the feet falling to the corners of your mat. Your arms a nice distance away from your body. I encourage palms to face up towards the sky (to receive/being open). If you feel vulnerable then placing palms down or moving close to your sides is always an option to make you feel safer. The shoulders should move away from the ears to create space in the neck, and the neck should be long and chin to chest to create length in your neck, but not scrunched up to chest….nice and long. If pregnant then this position is not recommended but instead take it on your left side. Glasses are advised to be removed, so they don't press on nerve endings and cause discomfort.
So we now know how to lie in Shavasana and if the mind wanders how to try and guide it gently to the breath, but why is it so important to do this pose when we have so much to get done at home/work!
Well, i believe that out of all the poses this pose is the essential pose and it's so important to do this at the end of class even if it is just for 3 minutes.
Why? Because after your yoga postures this asana allows the body to rest and recoup and the mind can come to a calmer state.
“Lying flat on the ground (on one’s back) like a corpse is called Mrtasana. This posture destroys fatigue, and quiets the agitation of the mind.” – Light On Yoga, B.K.S.Iyengar, p352.
We never get time to rest in this way, and here we can do it, we must learn to take advantage of it.
"The stress of modern civilisation is a strain on the nerves for which Savasana is the best antidote” Light on Yoga (Iyengar).
So what better way to end your yoga session than with relaxation in savasana, so next time you want to rush off and can't stop thinking about the jobs you have to do when you think to yourself wait these next few moments will benefit me long term physically and mentally, and help me be more productive when I leave class.
So let go, relax be present and enjoy!