“Endings are not always bad. Most times they’re beginnings in disguise.” – Kim Harrison
The final posture in a yoga class is called savasana, or corpse pose. The same posture can also be called mrtasana, or death pose, but this term is used less often in the Western world. The pose means “ultimate rest” and is meant to allow the body and mind to relax and integrate the benefits of the asana practice. It is sometimes considered the most difficult asana as our mind and physical sensations arrive at a disturbing awareness simply being in savasana.
The posture itself is quite simple. You lay the body down, face up, perhaps slightly separating the legs and arms and allowing the palms to face up. That is all. Many variations exist with blankets and bolsters to achieve a posture of rest. It should feel effortless for the body.
The pose imitates a corpse or death. In Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar said, “Once life has departed, the body remains still and no movements are possible. By remaining motionless for sometime and keeping the mind still while you are fully conscious, you learn to relax.” It is much harder to keep the mind still than it is to still the body. With practice, you are able to consciously relax and refresh the body and mind.
Recently, our local yoga studio, Sunlight Yoga, closed its doors after a beautiful six-year run. Although Sunlight Yoga instructors will still teach in Laureate Park, the space where the community gathered is closed. That space brought joy and comfort to many individuals. It was a safe space to gather, meet other yogis, and do some yoga. Our bodies got stronger there. We became more flexible and supple. Tears were shed there; sweat was poured there (especially during the summer months). Lots of laughter was had. Stories were shared. Hugs were had. It was a little light in the community for advanced and new yogis. And now, Sunlight Yoga is in savasana.
Luckily, savasana is also a pose of transformation. After savasana in yoga practice, one is reborn. We explore our body as if it were brand new. We are not who we were as babies or children. We are constantly in a state of rebirth. Isabelle Pikörn, chief editor for Insight Timer, said, “Our yoga practice is not about getting things. … Yoga is letting go.” It is the death of the ego, the craving and the grasping that something outside ourselves will mistakenly bring us happiness. Savasana is the practice that everything is perfect exactly as it is. There is nothing left to do.
After savasana, we are reborn. Pikörn said it beautifully: “What we are reborn into before we awaken and head back out into the world is entirely up to us.”
Although Sunlight Yoga’s doors closed, the transformation for the business, the instructors, and all its students is only about to begin. What we will become is entirely up to us.
Steps to savasana:
- Lie flat on your back.
- Allow your legs to naturally fall to the sides and allow your arms to have space away from the body, keeping the palms up.
- Allow the eyes to close.
- Breathe deeply and focus on the exhalation or the space of transition between in-breath and out-breath.
- Relax completely.
- As the mind wanders, return to the breath and the state of being.
- Stay in the posture anywhere from 5-20 minutes.