Editor's Note: Yapana is a Sanskrit word meaning “the support and extension of life.” This concept inspired the author to create a similar approach to yoga she calls "The Yapana Way." The following is an excerpt from her book, Restorative Yoga Therapy.
Savasana (Corpse Pose) is the final pose in a yoga practice that all other BEING poses are preparing for. However, when well supported it can also be a pose to begin with that sets the perfect tone for a successful BEING practice. Whether practiced at the beginning, end, or both, Savasana is designed to be experienced as an opportunity to turn away from constant doing, controlling, commanding, and assigning.
There will be times in Savasana when you will feel “relaxation challenged.” Sometimes it is because the mind is processing what has come before, or out of nowhere sensations and emotions begin to bubble to the surface.
The way our body relaxes into its Savasana shape tells us much about challenges we may face in other poses. Becoming aware of our holding patterns in stillness is just as important as observing them in movement and is a pointer to what kind of support might be necessary to promote more balance overall to our body/mind when practicing Savasana.
In all yoga poses, levels of experience change with time spent in them. You are just as likely to experience such changes in Savasana, even after a complete BEING practice. However, both thoughtful and skillful sequencing of the Yapana BEING and STILL segments will encourage the greatest amount of rest with the least amount of effort.
And allowing yourself to accept the changes of emotional feelings and physical sensations, as opposite as they may appear, will foster an experience of reconciliation and integration of the two rather than their separation.
How would you like YOUR Savasana?
There are many ways to take rest in Savasana, with or without support. Savasana does not have to be practiced the exact same way every time. Determining the kind of Savasana for the practice is based on what kinds of poses or pranayama were practiced before Savasana.
For instance, if the sequence addressed a stiff lower back, a logical choice may be to offer a Savasana that gives support to the lower back. If this is the case, consider practicing Savasana with either the legs elevated or weight on the top thighs to release the lower back into gravity. Or if the sequence focused on opening the chest and shoulders, a logical choice may be to practice a Savasana that includes an eye pillow to support going inside.
Basic Savasana (Corpse Pose)
When practicing Savasana, it may take you a few moments to settle into position. Move around a bit to find a good level of comfort, and then commit to where you are. Allow a gentle breath to move in and out, gently rocking your body away from and into gravity.
The simplest of support is shown in the photograph below: a bolster and blanket to support the legs and an eye bag to rest across the eyes.
How to Move into Basic Savasana
1. Rest supine with the legs draped over a bolster, a single- or double-rolled blanket underneath the ankles, and an eye bag resting on the eyes.
2. Rest the arms and hands away from the hips with the palms turned upward.
3. Make a comfortable distance between the shoulders and ears.
4. Relax the skin of the forehead, eyes, and cheeks down toward the bridge of the nose.
5. Deliberately relax the weight of the bones, muscles, organs, fluids, and nerves.
6. Explore and receive the feelings and sensations as they come in and out of your awareness.
7. Experience what it feels like to relax. And relax a little more.
How to Come out of Basic Savasana
1. Allow movement to stir throughout the body.
2. Bend the knees, placing the feet onto the floor.
3. Draw the knees in to the chest, and roll to the right.
5. Prepare for what’s next.
Downward Facing Savasana
This downward-facing variation of Savasana is an interesting option for someone who may want to explore relaxation around the abdominal region. The torso is supported on a bolster with the pubis bone waterfalling off one short end of the bolster.
Because not everyone is comfortable resting on the front side of the body, a 10-pound sandbag can be placed across the back of the pelvis and another one across the upper back thighs to settle the pelvis into a neutral position. If necessary, a blanket is placed underneath the head to keep it on the same plane as the spine.
How to Move into Downward Facing Savasana
1. Position a bolster on the mat in a parallel orientation and a blanket on the floor in front of the mat.
2. Lie facedown so the pubis bone is just hanging off the back end of the bolster.
3. Rest the forehead on the blanket.
4. Bring the arms into a goalpost position.
5. Relax and breathe.
How to Come out of Downward Facing Savasana
1. Bend the left knee alongside the bolster.
2. Push the left hand against the floor.
3. Roll to the right side.
5. Prepare for what’s next.
Cover Photo: Stocksy