Savasana: “the most difficult pose to master”

 

savasana

Savasana, or corpse pose is the bridge between the external practice to the internal practice (bahiranga to antaranga). It is the linking pose between Asana and Pranayama (breath/vital energy control). It is one of the few asanas where one can attain Pratyahara (detachment from the senses). In short, it is arguably one of the most valuable postures in Yoga. But because of its absence of physical challenge, it becomes very difficult for the aspirant to stop the mind chatter (citta vritti) which is one of the major aims of true Yoga practice. Because of this, BKS Iyengar often referred to Savasana as “the most difficult pose to master.” Here is a brief tutorial:

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Props needed are a sticky mat, a strap, and a blanket

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Lay the sticky mat flat

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And use the strap as an intersecting line. This will be a guide for the spine.

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Sit on the sticky mat with knees bent and both feet on the strap.

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Symmetrically roll the spine down the strap measuring vertabrae by vertebrae.

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When the head touches the ground see that the chin does not project back like seen in the photo. If your neck does this you need a folded blanket…

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You can now see the neck is soft here.

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Using a chopstick, the measurement should be that the forehead should be well above the chin so the crease in the neck deepens.

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Now grasp the sides of the sticky mat and push the hands towards the feet. This lifts the chest.

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Keeping the feet along the midline…

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Slide one foot out at a time

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And let both feet fall to the side.

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Now release the arms

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And take them to a 60 degree angle away from the torso

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From the base of the arms, roll them externally pressing the index finger knuckle to the floor to spread the sternal area

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Then gradually let go of all effort, closing the eyes

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To create softness in the face, and block out light, you can gently lay the strap over the eyes.

To come out bend the knees to the chest and roll to the right, propping yourself back to a seated position.

In Light On Pranayama by BKS Iyengar, he dedicates 22 pages to teaching this pose (more than any other Asana). In subsequent years he had also taught many more refinements. So my demonstration is just the tip of the iceberg.

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14 thoughts on “Savasana: “the most difficult pose to master”

  1. Mind Body Soul Stylist

    It took me awhile to recognize the full value of Savasana — for so long it felt like a waste of time, or something. Now I bask in the rest knowing it just may be the only time of day that I can luxuriate in this kind of way.

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  7. Scott@SkepticMeditations

    Thanks for your message over at my blog, Michael. Happy Holiday and New Year to you and yours!

    For your post here: I like your step by step photo instructions for savasana. Good reminder that “simple” [savasana or relaxation] not always easy–in fact, “simple”, like you say, is often deceptively the most difficult.

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    1. yogibattle Post author

      You bring up an interesting point Ihaiva. What did aspirants use before sticky mats? The Bhagavad Gita prescribes a seat of kusa-grass with a deer-skin on top of it, and a piece of cloth on top of that. The Gheranda Samhita says that the yogi “should sit on a seat of kusa-grass or a deer-skin or tiger-skin, or a blanket or on earth.” I suppose sticky mats are a lesser form of a deerskin or tiger skin in the classic sense, but at least in modern times using a sticky mat is practicing Ahimsa as no deer or tigers are harmed 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts about this post.

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      1. ihaiva

        although might be an issue of biodegradability of mats – also not very hygienic? re deer and tiger skins – at that time perhaps living in the forest it was only done for immediate needs not mass extinction ….yes agree in keeping with times things change – but the proliferation of props is also interesting to observe – thanks for your reply Namaste

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