Posture: Savasana (Dead Body Pose)
Savasana is a chance to relax, refuel and reconnect with yourself. It seems simple (just lay still), yet it’s one of the hardest poses to master in Bikram Yoga. Most of us aren’t used to stilling our bodies and minds, but doing so offers huge benefits, physically and mentally.
- Lay on your back, heels together, feet flop out, arms by your side and close to your body, palms facing the ceiling. Let your fingers curl naturally.
- Getting your body “straight” isn’t as important as releasing all tension and finding stillness as quickly as possible.
- Eyes open, gaze softly at one spot on the ceiling; try not to blink or move.
- Don’t fidget, wipe or scratch. Whatever you feel, just accept it and let it go.
- Breathe normally in and out through your nose, trying to gradually slow down your breath (inhale for about five counts, exhale for five).
- Try to let the floor hold you up; let your body sink into the floor. It may help to imagine your body as a pool of butter (or pancake batter) melting in a hot pan.
- Your thoughts are going to come and go; getting frustrated with yourself because you can’t “stop your thoughts” will only disturb your peace.
- Focus on your breath to stay present and keep your mind from wandering.
- If your mind starts to wander just return to your breath. If it wanders 1,000 times, that’s OK. Acknowledge each thought, let it go, return to your breath.
- Having trouble focusing on your breath? Count your inhalations and exhalations.
Savasana on Your Stomach:
- The same principles of stillness and relaxation (mental and physical) apply, except you’re lying on your stomach.
- Lay on your belly, big toes touching lightly, feet flop out, arms by your side and close to your body, palms facing up to the ceiling. Let your fingers curl naturally.
- The teacher will tell you which way to turn your head after each posture; if you’re looking into someone else’s eyes, one of you is facing the wrong way!
- Press your ear flat to the floor to achieve a “micro-stretch” in your neck.
- Keep your eyes open; pick a spot nearby on the floor and keep a soft gaze there. Try focusing on one corner of your towel or one thread in your towel.
- Take deep, even, breaths in and out through your nose, slowing your respiration down and returning your circulation back to normal.
Best Tips From Teachers:
- On getting your body perfectly “straight”: Cedric told me he used to spend a lot of time over-thinking his position on the floor; if it wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t happy (this inevitably compromised his Savasana). Eventually he learned to “let go” and accept however his body happened to fall on the mat. That let him direct his energy to his stillness instead.
- On taking deep belly breaths: Jerome once told me, “If your chest is moving up and down, you haven’t fully released all the tension from your body. If your stomach is moving up and down, you’re more relaxed.”
- On releasing all of the tension: Teachers often use analogies to help you relax in Savasana. One of my favourites is courtesy of Gabe: “‘Sandbag’ your body into the floor.” I only heard him say it once, but it stuck with me; the concept really helps me release every last bit of tension from my body.
- On being present: It’s all about staying aware, relaxed and still. Don’t over-think it; deep relaxation is the opposite of trying too hard. Be with yourself, be with your breath and be in the moment. Like Danny says, Savasana may be the only part of your day where there’s “nowhere to go, nothing to do.” Enjoy it!