Featured Pose: Savasana
Sanskrit: Savasana (sha-vah-sah-nah) | English: Corpse pose
At our Mother's Day edition of Soul Nourish Sunday, we really slowed down to savour some self-care time on our mats with a restorative-style yoga practice. While we only practiced a handful of poses (albeit benefit-dense, super poses), perhaps one of the most appreciated was our final pose - Savasana.
A pose that offers rest and renewal while stimulating healing, it is sometimes called the most difficult of the asanas (poses) since the act of relaxing can be tricky to master and hard to tap into. The essence of Savasana is to relax with attention, that is, to remain aware and alert while still being at ease and finding rest. Remaining aware while resting can help you begin to notice and gradually release long-held tensions in both your body and mind. The act of letting go (of whatever it might be) frees up physical, energetic, and mental space in your being; in a sense cleansing the body and offering a sense of relief at no longer carrying, or holding on to something that no longer serves you.
Restores balance to the nervous system; calming
Helps relieve stress and mild depression
Addresses tension in low back
Promotes deep, quality sleep
Reduces headaches, fatigue, and insomnia
Improves concentration, focus
Restores balance to major chakras
Supports immune system
You don't need fancy yoga props for your practice, there are lots of everyday items we can improvise with:
Bolster (or pillow, sofa cushion, blanket/towel roll, etc.)
(Optional) Yoga mat
(Optional) Blanket, maybe 2
(Optional) Eye pillow (or eye mask, face cloth, sweater sleeve, scarf, strap etc.)
(Optional) Weighted sand bag (or a bag of rice wrapped in a pillow case)
Sitting roughly in the centre of your yoga mat, bend your knees slightly to slide the soles of your feet onto your mat. (You don't need to tuck your knees all the way in to your chest.)
Slide your bolster under your knees
Bringing your hands onto the mat just behind your hips, start to lower yourself gently to the mat, first, onto forearms, tucking your chin on your way down
Once you've bought the back of your head to your mat, extend your legs out long again so that the back of the knees rests on your bolster
(Optional) If using additional props, bring them in to support your pose
Legs can be separated inner-hip width or wider
Arms can be wherever is comfortable. Some options ... alongside the body, out wide from your body, in a T shape, palms facing up or down ... resting palms down on lower abdomen, belly, belly and chest ... etc.
Find a gentle tuck of your shoulders towards your spine and away from your ears (down your back towards your hips)
Tuck or lift the chin to bring length into the back of the neck, throat, and sides of the neck
Eyelids are heavy, with eyes open or closed. If eyes are open, bring them to rest on one unmoving point directly above you; allow your vision to soften around the edges as your eyelids get heavier.
Taking a full inhale, fill your body with nourishing breath, and then as you exhale, part the lips, and sigh out your breath as you let go of effort and tension in the body.
Returning to a natural and uncontrolled breath, be here for 10-15 minutes, observing the breath and sensation in the physical body, while witnessing your thoughts and experience.
To transition out of the pose: invite small movements into the body (maybe a slow shake of the head, and a wriggle of fingers and toes) before tucking the knees into the chest. Roll onto one side and pause for a few rounds of breath before making your way up.
Can also be practiced lying on the couch or in bed
Bring a blanket fold under the back of the head and neck for additional support
You may end up staying a while and as the nervous system resets to 'rest and digest' mode, you may experience a sensation of coolness. Feel free to cosy up with a blanket draped over you to lock in some warmth.
To promote inward focus, you might like to cover your eyes with an eye pillow or scarf to seal in the darkness.
If you have a sandbag (no more than 10 lbs), you can lay it across the hip creases/lower abdomen. One of those MagicBag-style things that you can heat/freeze would work in place of a sandbag here.
Rest the backs of your heels/Achilles tendons on a blanket roll
If you find yourself using effort to hold the legs in place, use a strap (a belt or scarf works too) fastened around your mid-thighs to hold your legs. This is a pose of rest so fasten your strap while allowing for a comfortable space between the thighs/legs.
Photo Credit: Gail Boorstein Grossman