Happy NOW Year Tip #6: Savasana
Have you ever wondered why lying on your back and doing absolutely nothing at the end of a yoga class feels so good? Or maybe you are new to yoga and have no idea what the heck the point is. I remember being curious and perplexed after my first few classes, but my ignorance and lack of patience derailed me. I confess, I strategically snuck out of class before Savasana. Yep, I was one of those. (insert emoji monkey covering eyes ) However, when I learned what this beautiful pose represents, I stayed, and it felt good. I felt incredible! I was already hooked to yoga, but this was the “dessert” of the practice. That was 15 years ago, and I haven’t missed a Savasana since.
All yoga classes end with Savasana (or Shavasana). This mystical pose is symbolic of letting go, but also receiving. Savasana literally means “corpse” pose, and when set up correctly, it feels miraculously goooood to just lie on a hard floor. It’s wonderful even. Why? Because your body has just experienced a magical adventure of strengthening, stretching, opening, balancing, creating new movement patterns, exploring sensations, breathing deeply, liberating your body, connecting with your heart, creating stillness in your mind, and being present to make it to this pose of lying still, in order to receive your practice and rest in deep peace. YOU created this comfort, and maybe there was even discomfort along the way. That’s part of the process. Soak in the sweetness, both the comfort and the discomfort on your mat that day and enjoy the yumminess of your journey.
Some teachers say this is the most important pose of the practice and also the most difficult to master. The body processes all this new and vibrant information, but the restless mind might be distracted, and it takes time to let go. As with most things in life, it takes diligence and patience. Yes, even doing nothing for some people can be super challenging.
Benefits/Why It’s Gooood:
Savasana activates the relaxation response (otherwise known as the parasympathetic system aka, “rest and digest” system), decreases muscle tension, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, increases cellular oxygen consumption, relieves headaches/migraines, improves sleep patterns, decreases anxiety, improves focus and self-confidence, and is rejuvenating.
Side note: This isn’t a time for a nap, although when we are extremely tired we might doze off.
How It’s Done:
Lie on your back. Place a blanket or bolster beneath your knees for support if you have a sensitive lower back. If you have a cold/congestion, set up lying on either side. If prego: lie on your left side. Place your feet slightly wider than your hips. Turn your palms upward and place them slightly off the mat, increasing the armpit angle to represent opening and receiving. Soften your hands and each finger. The back of your neck is long, your shoulder blades connect to the mat, and your legs are relaxed. Return to your natural breath. Close your eyes and check in with how your body is feeling. Make little adjustments and wiggle around to get any remaining kinks out until you feel completely comfortable. Coziness and finding neutral alignment in your body is essential in order to fully rest, soften, and let go. Let clarity trickle in. Stay present with your breath and with the sensations you are feeling. Relax here and simply BE. For every hour of yoga, practice 10 minutes of Savasana.
To come out of the pose, reawaken your body with gentle little movements at first, moving fingers, toes, and then hands and feet. Reach your arms overhead for a full-body stretch. Roll to your right side and pause. Slowly push up to a seated position leading with your heart, which is on the left side of your body… follow your heart. Honor your intentions with hands together at your heart in Anjali mudra (a gesture of reverence) to seal your practice with acceptance, kindness and love. At the close of class, we say “Namaste” to each other, which has many beautiful meanings such as “the light within me honors the light within you” and “the deepest part of me acknowledges the deepest part of you.” This is a way of expressing sincere gratitude and respect to each other, to our past, present, and future teachers, and to our own heart, to begin again.
Enjoy the journey of stillness, rest in peace.
From my heart to yours,
Amanda Kriebel, DPT, E-RYT 500
Share your Savasana experiences below in the comments or tweet us @TheBodyBook.
Affectionately described by many as a yoga scientist, Amanda Kriebel is an innovative Doctor of Physical Therapy and Yoga Teacher who humbly claims to be a student of life. She inspires her patients and students to find JOY through creative techniques to optimize their physique and health. She developed a clinical collection of short yoga routines called the Surf | E x p a n s i o n Yoga Series designed for all types of individuals and athletes curious to explore yoga. Amanda has assisted the sports medical team at World Surfing League events since 2011. She is an avid surfer/snowboarder/lover of the ocean and the mountains. As an adventurer herself she is dedicated to promoting health and longevity so that you dwell IN JOY. Learn more about her and her exclusive videos: www.awarenesspt.com | Facebook | Instagram @amanda.kriebel | YouTube Channel
Photo/Video Credit: Micaela Malmi Photography