Lying on one’s back, with arms and legs falling gently to the side, slow and soothing abdominal breathing relaxing every muscle, Savasana.
Did you know there is more than just relaxation to this pose? The hint comes from its name Savasana, a Sanskrit word translated as Corpse Pose, and this is both literal and symbolic. This pose asks you to practice lying like a corpse while considering the nature of one’s own consciousness in relation to life and death. No small order when you consider it seems to be humanity’s theme to live in a state of resistance to the reality of death. Yoga challenges this fear head on. Savasana, the practice of dying, is an essential part of living fully, and an essential part of spiritual practice.
In most modern yoga classes you will see Corpse Pose embedded at the end of the class, however, traditional yogasana routines would begin and end with it. This carefully designed structure was intended to bring awareness to the cyclical nature of being, as it carries the participant through a symbolic cycle of death, birth, action, and death during a single yoga session.
As we come to Savasana at the end of the class, it’s ultimately a practice of letting go. It’s the yogic way of letting unwanted elements within us die, empowering us to surrender to life. It serves as self-awareness, a reflection of how we hold so tightly to all that we cannot control within and around us, and how difficult it can be to rest in stillness and vulnerability. Traditional yoga teaches us that letting go into stillness requires practice as we challenge ourselves to work with the restless nature of the mind and the layers of resistance to accepting things as they are, including the inevitability of death.
Through Corpse Pose, as we develop the skill to enter into a relaxed consciousness, living fully in our experiences, moment-to-moment, we are called to a deeper connection. Here the bridge to the soul is strengthened, the heart opens, and our inner teacher awakens. Being a corpse is the yogi’s spiritual wake-up call. We learn we are more than our bodies; we are more than our egos.