Savasana: The Shifting of Yourself

In my practice, I often hear teachers say savasana (corpse pose), is the most important, and most difficult, pose. In my experience as a student and a teacher, I have notice that two things often happen in savasana: students fall asleep or they daydream. The common challenge of savasana is to not fall asleep or think about your day. Rather savasana is a time for rest and reconditioning the mind. In yoga, and in life, we are continuously circling the wheel of birth and death. This wheel is the cyclic representation of creation, preservation, and dissolution that is prominent in every action we take: thoughts, relationships, movements. An entire yoga class follows this wheel of birth and death. We start class in a place of stillness: seated mediation, balasana (child’s pose), and savasana are the most common. We wake up our bodies to the practice, move within, and then metaphorically die in savasana, only to be reborn as we roll over into fetal position and come up to a seated position to close our practice. The death in practice is just as important as the birth and preservation aspect.

Our mind is a living entity that processes and stores all our thoughts, emotions, and experiences. These impressions, known as samskaras, are embedded in our subconscious and are the basis for many of our habits: the way we eat our ice cream, the way we recoil from a hot stove, the way we may fall asleep in savasana. Our samskaras are the basis for how we see the world, how we see others, and how we form our own character.  According to meditation teacher, Sally Kempton, “Changing our samskaras by shifting our way thinking will also affect the way we act.”[1] A basic yogic notion is that if you change your perspective and change your habits, your life will inevitably change.

Savasana is a place to release old ways of thinking, to let go of old associations and create growth in a new direction. Giving yourself permission to relax in savasana, to enjoy the simple sensations of breath and the drifting waves of thought helps to create a lasting mind/body connection. Today’s society requires we reside in the fast lane, constantly moving, pushing ourselves, and stressing about…everything. This high-stress lifestyle promotes a mind/body disconnect. During savasana, a practice of conscious breath, slowing down, and relaxing, the body rests and returns to its normal functioning state.

Next time you find yourself heading into savasana thrilled to finally get a nap into your day, or fidgeting because you have too much to get done and laying around is a waste of time, stop and recognize the need for a metaphoric death. We can only grow from the release of our samskaras and habitual behaviors. Savasana is a way to “let go of the old, and make room for the new.” This new self you have created or connected with during your time on the mat embodies a deeper realization to recognize the practice of mindfulness as not only a way to shape your body, but a way to unify your mind and spirit.

[1] Kempton, Sally. “Seeds of Change.” Yoga Journal, March 2012: 53-64. Print.