Savasana. Corpse pose. Yoga instructors hardly ever use the English translation for Savasana. It sounds almost gruesome. Recently, I gave this more thought. Why would such a seemingly negative sounding posture be a staple in yoga classes everywhere? In my opinion, Savasana is one of, if not THE most important pose in an asana practice. The body needs a chance to recuperate and relax after a vigorous sequence or even after intense stretching. But I never say, “Hey let’s all move in to corpse pose!”
I believe that Savasana returns us to baseline after our practice. By concluding in this fashion we are almost resetting our bodies. We give the physical a chance to recover, to take in the benefits of the postures just performed and emerge ready once again to face the rest of our day. With so much positivity and joy attached to this asana, why such a negative connotation?
It was last week while instructing a class that the proverbial light bulb incandesced in my head. “Let the whole body feel heavy” I said. “Completely relax. Feel the entire body melting into the earth.” The glass bulb grew brighter, I felt like I had just discovered adamantium steel; when a person passes away, we say “Rest in Peace.” Savasana allows us a little bit of peace while we’re still living.
By taking Savasana after a yoga class, or even after a mentally strenuous activity, we have the chance to rest in peace while alive. Corpse pose is not at all morbid or yucky, rather it teaches us this lesson that we don’t have to wait until we’re dead to enjoy a bit of stillness.
So to those of you who skip Savasana or leave class early to avoid this awkward back-laying don’t! It annoys your instructor and disrupts the energy in the room. Just give in. Lay down. It is only five to ten minutes. Take to this asana with as much commitment, effort and intention as you would any other posture in your practice. Rest in peace.