Shavasana Pose | Everything You Need To Know
The Corpse Pose couldn't look any easier to practice. You simply lie on the floor and do nothing. There are no twists, no complicated bends, no head-stands or balancing challenges. All you do is lie back, keep your hands at your side, close your eyes, and breathe in and out through your nose.
Yet despite how basic and easy it may be to hold, the Corpse Pose is considered one of the most challenging postures you'll ever practice because you're being asked to relax and let go. With so much happening in our lives – the stress, doubt, and anxiety that complicates our happiness and well-being – it can be nearly impossible to just switch off and let all of those hassles melt away.
So while many postures test our strength and flexibility as well as our spirit and mind, the Corpse Pose forces us to sharpen our meditation skills and put aside the judgments and worries that plague our thoughts and emotions. When you achieve success in your ability to cut away and release, you can move into that ideally relaxed condition that allows the mind and body to fully refresh and replenish.
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The Challenges Of Shavasana
The biggest hurdle in practicing this pose is to clear your mind. You're lying on the mat while your yoga teacher works to calm your mind, and you're working hard not to let your thoughts wander. The difficulty of doing something so seemingly simple and straightforward is actually making you more tense and annoyed. All you can think about is clearing your mind, but thinking of clearing the mind is not clearing the mind. Your inner thoughts begin chiding you for failing at this effortless task, which only makes it worse.
That's okay. Think about when you were working towards perfecting dolphin pose or chair pose and the work and concentration that it took to get there. This is no different. You may not be expending physical energy but exerting the mental energy to master your relaxation skills can be almost as exhausting and frustrating.
On the other side of the coin is the individual who becomes so relaxed, so laid back, so switched off, that they fall asleep on his or her mat in the middle of class. Yes, the relaxation has been achieved but it's not a successful achievement of the shavasana.
The true goal of Corpse Pose is to find that a balance between being relaxed and being alert. Bringing your mind to peace while remaining conscious is the road to letting go and allowing you to release the anxiety in your mind and your body.
Why Shavasana Is So Important
When we think of shavasana, many of us believe it's all about lying still and clearing our thoughts. An empty mind is certainly a start, but there is actual work involved in achieving Corpse Pose. There is an entire process at work where you are challenged to slowly loosen up each part of the body - each muscle and each thought that passes through your mind.
Even though it sounds so easy, you can't get to that serene position of relaxation without practicing the skill, day in and day out. That consistent preparation and repetition of conditioning the mind and body to reduce tension and anxiety can improve your physical and mental health.
If you're someone who struggles to relax, who can't switch off their brain no matter how hard they try, Corpse Pose is going to be very difficult to practice initially. It may help to work your way up to the Corpse Pose by going through a variety of alternative asanas that work towards the same goals.
How To Do Shavasana AKA Corpse Pose
The Corpse Pose begins with the alignment of the body. Start by lying on the floor evenly on both sides, without rolling or listing one way or another, and make sure everything is equal on each side.
The physical relaxation portion of shavasana means calming the muscles and letting everything about your body sink down. Nothing about you should be rigid, all the way down to the tongue and the eyes. Let them soften and turn downward. Allow your face to melt and your ears to release towards the floor.
Now the most important part – clear the mind. Think of nothing. Don't think about what you did before your practice, what you have waiting for you after your practice. Remain in the now, stay present, and wipe your thoughts clean. You'll be tempted to focus inward on making sure you're doing it all properly, but you won't be doing it properly if that's what you're focused on.
An empty mind is the first step towards true inner connection. Letting go is what Corpse Pose is all about. Without the ability to do that you'll never be able to practice shavasana properly.
Training Yourself To Achieve Corpse Pose
There are many challenges to shavasana, but when you find ways to navigate the obstacles that will inevitably get in the way, your journey towards success can start to become easier.
Props can be extremely helpful to get you where you want to be. For example, you can place a cloth or eye mask over your eyes to calm your pupils and eliminate any light that might come through your eyelids.
For some, lying on the floor can be uncomfortable, so placing a blanket or cushion under the neck to offer support can increase the comfort of the pose. If the lower back is in pain, place that blanket or pillow under the knees.
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Benefits Of Corpse Pose
Anything that promotes relaxation is going to be good for you and shavasana is no exception. Holding this pose can release anxiety, fatigue, stress, and depression while relaxing the muscles and increasing your capacity for concentration. When the mind is calm, your mental health and well-being improve drastically. This can also help you sleep better and heal the body.