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What is Savasana Anyways?

We know. It looks odd. Walking past a group exercise room or the window of a yoga studio and seeing a bunch of grown adults laying down, taking what looks like a group nap, which can be a very strange experience. What are they doing? Why are they doing it? They definitely aren’t burning any calories like that right? All thoughts that run through the minds of casual observers and new-comers to a yoga practice. However, as with most things in yoga, there is always more to it than what meets the eye. Savasana is a Sanskrit word translated to mean “corpse” in English. With a name like that, one cannot help but to think of death. It's a strange thing to incorporate at the end of a practice - something that has focused on light and life and peace and love. To most Americans, death is anything but a light and peaceful word. So why would it be such a vital part of every savasana practice?

Death. It is a weighty and scary word. However, it is one of the only experiences we know for a fact that every human will undoubtedly come face-to-face with at some point in their life. Being that it is one of the few truly universal aspects of this human existence, it has been oft-pondered, discussed and dwelled upon.

My intention is not for you to dwell on death to the extent that it makes you anxious and sad, but rather to notice its ever-present place in your life and in your yoga practice. Then you'll learn to become familiar with it, less afraid of it, and respect it. Much like literal death, savasana is one of the only poses that you will undoubtedly come face-to-face with in any and every yoga class. No matter where you are, who the teacher is, or what their style is, a yoga class should always end with at least a moment (if not several long moments) of stillness, quiet relaxation, and contemplation, with a corpse pose. Why is it such an important part of the practice that it is the only pose we see in every class? Could that lead us to believe that if there were such a thing as a pose hierarchy, savasana might very well be the most important and/or challenging of all the poses?

Depending upon your personality, mood, day, or individual yoga practice, savasana is probably either your favorite or most dreaded part of an asana practice. For those just beginning their yoga journey, the purpose of savasana can be very confusing. They come to a class looking for a typical, workout, but instead just lay still for almost 10 minutes of the hour. How will they ever get “fit”? For those that struggle with anxiety or racing thoughts or hyperactivity, the stillness of savasana can be very difficult. Their minds and their bodies want so badly to do what they do all day, which is to move around and be active. How will they ever quiet their spirits? For those that are chronically over-stressed, over-worked, and over-tired, the ability to stay awake during savasana can seem impossible. How will they ever find that perfect, syrupy balance between being awake and asleep?

My hope is that each day that you practice savasana, you are practicing gently putting to death those things like worry, anxiety, self-doubt, judgments, broken relationships, mistrust, cynicism, and the need to always be right, etc. I hope that you are practicing letting go of any and all things that do not serve you, letting them die there on your mat, and then rising to walk out a bit lighter because you practiced this.

Now that you know what Savasana is, come take a Restorative yoga class here at Joy Yoga Center and put it to the test!

By Holly Coneway

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