Generally taken at the end of each class, corpse pose is a way to let go of each practice with awareness and rest.
I wish the posture was that easy. In actuality, it’s one of the hardest asana we will cover. The stillness and quiet that we find in corpse pose, also known as savasana, is the same stillness and quiet we need to find in balance postures like tree pose. I know what you are thinking: "How can that be, Erin? Savasana seems so simple: Lie on floor, shut eyes, be quiet."
The goal in yoga is to find stillness among the chatter. Like a ripple, the quiet and stillness will spread over time, easing the chatter. Savasana is challenging because you enter into it thinking how easy it’s going to be to let go of the chatter, but the chatter usually returns, sometimes louder. The challenge is to withdraw the senses without withdrawing from the focus of relaxation.
So let’s begin right away.
1. Turn down the lights and shut off all media. Grab an eye mask if you have one, or place a hand towel or washcloth over your eyes. I like to have my legs elevated with a couple of pillows or a bolster under my knees. Do what feels most comfortable to you.
2. Lie back, close your eyes, and begin to cultivate dirgha pranayama, or yoga breathing. Relax your eyes within the sockets. Let your jaw drop back and release. Your breath will invite you to relax, so accept the invitation to visualize and release the external senses.
3. Begin to imagine your body is floating on a salty ocean, or imagine you are melting into the earth, becoming liquid.
4. Inhale and exhale slowly, focusing your mind on one thing or point (dharana) to help you find meditation (dhyana). These sixth and seventh limbs of yoga are your tools for savasana. When you point your mind in one direction, it makes room for new pathways and connections that couldn’t be made without making room first. Pointing the mind in one direction unclutters the garbage that can collect in our train of thought.
Frustrated your mind won’t find stillness or quiet for long? Take comfort in the fact that for 5,000 years or so, every human being has struggled to find stillness and quiet in the mind, peace in the soul, and love for all that it is the art of using the tools we learn from our teachers.
I always tell my students at the end of class that this posture is the most important posture they will do all day. After a long practice or a long day, give yourself this much-needed pose.