By Jennifer Neilson
The debate is out really on how to pronounce Savasana. Some say it just as it is spelt Sa-Va-Sa-Na and some (including me) say is with the shhhhh sound, Sha-Va-Sa-Na . The non Sanskrit name is corpse pose. Either way is completely acceptable.
So what IS Savasana?
Savasana is a time at the end of your yoga practice (and sometimes beforehand) when we lie on our backs in rest. Allowing all the work put in during the yoga class to settle in the body. It’s a time to release tension and find a calm state.
When in Savasana our heart rates slow down and blood pressure decreases. When we start to soften the muscles and let ourselves be supported by the floor underneath us we are able to start to tap into that parasympathetic nervous system. Or in other words, the rest and digestive cycle of the body. During stressful work days and strenuous exercise, we are working through the sympathetic nervous system, which is helpful for motivation and physical power, but being left on the stress “high” can leave us burnt out and drained.
What do I DO in Savasana?
Said to be the hardest of the asanas. Being able to be still is a hard one for many people, especially in a world where doing more, being faster and producing as much as possible is the norm.
Being able to sit with our thoughts can be difficult. It takes practice. Hence why in yoga we typically call it a yoga “practice”.
When first starting out in yoga, I like to tell students to count the breaths up until 10. Sounding a little like this ” inhale (as you inhale), exhale (as you exhale) 1. Inhale, exhale 2, inhale, exhale 3. Eventually making your way up to 10. When you get off track from this pattern and begin to think of other things, starting at 1 all over again.
And finally, Savasana is recognized as a ritual. A ritual in our own personal practices but as a collective in yoga classes as well. We all know we will receive the sweet surrender of Savasana at the end. It becomes an expectant part of the process that we all know is coming and look forward to to seal our practice.