Shavasana, also known as Mrtasana or Corpse Pose, used between postures and at the end of a yoga session, this relaxation pose allows the body and mind to absorb the benefits of the previous poses. Since your body will cool down in this yoga pose, you may want to wear socks and another layer of clothing.
The practice of this yoga pose is useful for developing body awareness and pratyahara. When the body is completely relaxed, mindfulness develops. Shavasana effect affects your physical as well as psychological structure.
Pregnant women should do this yoga pose with their chest and head as support.
Savasana is very helpful in the yogic management of peptic ulcer, anxiety, hypertension, hysteria, cancer and all psychosomatic diseases and neurosis. In fact, it is beneficial, no matter what the situation, even in perfect health, as it brings to the fore the hidden impressions buried within the subconscious mind, and the mind that operates during the waking consciousness relaxes and becomes calm. Therefore, it is necessary to practice Corpse Pose to develop dharana and dhyana. Although it is a stable pose (relaxation pose), it revitalizes the entire system.
|Known as:||Shavasana, Savasana, Mrtasana, Corpse Pose, Dead Pose, Relaxation Pose|
|Sanskrit name:||शवासन; मृतासन|
|Type:||Relaxation, Restorative Posture|
|Total time:||3-20 minutes (5 minutes per every half hour of yoga)|
|Chakra:||Sahasrara Chakra, Anahata Chakra|
|Indications:||Stress, depression, neck pain, high blood pressure|
|Preparatory poses:||Usually performed after Pranayama as well as dynamic yogic postures like Sun Salutation after each yogic session|
|Follow-up poses:||Sukhasana (Easy Pose)|
|Contraindications:||Modification for lower back (place a bolster under the knees to support the low back) or spinal injuries, Pregnancy (place a bolster under the knees or relax onto either side of the body with the knees drawn toward the chest)|
Meaning + Origin
The Shavasana (Savasana) or Mrtasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of two words — Shava or Mrta + Asana:
- “Shava or Mrta” = “corpse or death”
- “Asana” = “pose or posture”
The first written record of Shavasana is found in a 15th-century classic yoga text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which states: “The body is kept motionless while lying on the ground like a corpse, hence the name Savasana. It relieves fatigue and relaxes the mind.”
Like the virtue of this posture, imitating a corpse, it is also called Mrtasana in Sanskrit.
Science behind Shavasana
Savasana, or Corpse Pose, completes the chakra. Surya Namaskar resets the length of the muscles in the brain and warms up the body. Specific yoga postures lengthen the muscles around various joints, stimulate nerve conduction and illuminate the chakras.
Inversions have reconnected to the parasympathetic nervous system. The theta brain wave pattern predominates in Corpse Pose, in which electrical activity oscillates and vibrates at a frequency of 4–8 Hz. This state of brain function instinctively engages the unconscious mind, accesses deep-seated memories and connects to the collective unconscious. Healing occurs in this state, the deep state of Corpse Pose shifts the brain wave pattern in delta (0.5–2 Hz frequency). This is the brain wave state of the dream. During Shavasana, passively look inside and see the subtle energetic body floating above the physical body.
Benefits of Savasana (Corpse Pose)
During Shavasana, you close the eyes and focus on breathing naturally and releasing tension from your whole body. This restorative pose gives a lot of benefits to your body if practiced with proper breathing after each yogic session. However, the physical and mental benefits of this yoga asana are listed below.
- Physical Benefits:
- Reduces fatigue
- Lowers blood pressure
- Relaxes and rejuvenates the body
- Mental Benefits:
- Calms and centers the mind
- Reduces insomnia
- Reduces stress
- Relieves mild depression, and anxiety
Shavasana (Corpse Pose) Practice Guide
1. Shavasana or Mrtasana
- Sit on the floor with your legs bent, feet flat.
- Come down on your elbows. Lift your pelvis an inch or two off the floor, and bend your hips toward the cat’s flank, rotating the pelvis backward. Then, keeping your pelvis in cat’s tilt, lower your lower back and sacrum to the floor again and allow them to rest on the floor.
- Lie straight, take your elbows to the side and slowly lower your back to the floor. Extend your arms out to your sides away from your body, palms up, then arch your back and shoulders, flatten the shoulder blades, and feel comfortable with yourself. Rest on the center point at the back of your skull.
- Straighten your legs one by one. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, and allow them to fall outward.
- Check that your feet are comfortably away, your arms are comfortably away from your body, and your head is straight. Don’t put your arms or legs so close together that you feel cramped, cramped, or claustrophobic, nor so far apart that your energy feels scattered. Be symmetrical, comfortable. Close your eyes, find your perfect alignment, then allow yourself to relax and do nothing for the next 3-20 minutes.
Corpse pose (Savasana) with bolster under knees
- Take Savasana (Corpse Pose). Sit with your legs extended and your hands by your side.
- Use a bolster under the knees to create a slight flexion, while relaxing the hamstrings. You can also place a blanket under the head to gently flex the cervical area.
- Alternatively, place a block in the area of the shoulder blades to passively stretch the intercostal muscles and expand the chest. Avoid stretching the neck as it tightens the neck and can damage the cervical spine area. Instead, use a block under the head to gently flex the neck.
- Allow the feet to face outwards and the palms facing up. To complete your practice, close your eyes and rest in Shavasana for 3 to 10 minutes.
2. Tips and tricks
- The techniques are simple. Keep it simple. You relax everywhere—and then be aware of how you feel. Relax and feel, that is it, in a nutshell. Let go of every physical and mental tension, temporarily let go of everything you don’t need, and then just pay attention and see what happens.
- For these 3-20 minutes, voluntarily put aside your worries, fears, and worries of the day, and let go of every obvious sign of tension in your body—and then be aware of how you feel. Taste what you feel. Feel what is happening wherever you are.
- There is a tendency to be unintentionally stressed or anxious, both physically and mentally, and because it seems normal, we barely even notice it.
- Therefore, the idea is to become more aware of tensions where your body is uncomfortable or tight, even slightly, and then consciously release them and relax to feel how it feels.
- Feels (how you feel!) to be completely relaxed: nowhere, not contracted, not compressed or compressed, not deflated or depressed, not shielded, not in a position of self-protection or self-defence, rather willingly unrestricted and relaxed—and therefore wide, wide, clear, clean, wide open and wide awake.
- Shavasana is much more than just relaxing your body and muscles after the session, it is a way to find relief. This simplified is the essence of yoga: to go in and experience the self.
- The sense-tone of unrestrained, uncompressed, distorted being is peace, calmness—and the stillness of peace sounds good, not blah, nothing but good, positively blissful. Peace is a state of energy far greater than what we are accustomed to. Peace is a high-energy focused, dynamic stillness.
- As you regularly practice Corpse Pose, and as the stillness of the Infinite Being becomes more familiar to you as the spirit-tone of your existence, you will find that it is always available to experience.
- The feeling of quiet bliss is there, here – always. It’s not far, hard to reach. Nor is it something you create. It is something in which you allow yourself to relax. It becomes a choice: stress or relaxation? Being contracted or not being defended? Conflict, anxiety, physical discomfort…or peace? Deep, healing, soothing peace.
- If you want peace, rest. Choice becomes easier when you know you have a choice.
To have a rest. Feels like melting. Do this by scanning your awareness around and through your body – the space inside and around your body – alert you to where there is unnecessary contraction, restlessness, tension or excessive energy. Let go of every sign of stopping.
- Start with your hands.
- Relax your awareness in the area of your hands: palms, thumbs, fingers, the space between your fingers, fingers, nails, the back of your hands, wrists, the inside of your hands, and the space around your hands.
- Forget how they look, what you remember about how they look, and instead immerse your awareness of the way they really make you feel now. Get in your hands and feel them.
- Gradually, you may begin to feel warmth or warmth, then there may be a pleasant, tingling, electric-like sensation. Feel the energy in your hands.
- As your hands relax, feel them expanding. Feel that they are becoming less dense, less thick, less shriveled – bigger inside, more comfortable. Feel this happening, and let them expand without limits.
- Note that as they relax and expand, every tension evaporates, disappearing. It may also begin to feel like your hands are not there, as if a wide open tingling space is where your hands once were. Enjoy the way it feels.
Let this new feeling of expanded and tingling openness flow through your arms at your leisurely pace upwards, until your arms, hands, and shoulders feel relaxed, transparent, clear.
- Direct your attention to your feet. Get in your feet and feel them. Relax the soles of each foot, relax the arches, relax the toes, the space between the toes, the top of each foot, the ankles, the heels, the inside of your feet and the space around your feet. Feel the energy in your feet.
- Again, forget how they look, what you remember about how they look, and instead immerse your conscious awareness of the way they really feel.
When the tingling sensation in your legs has established itself in your awareness along your arms, now allow it to flow slowly upward through your legs, torso and head – until your entire body is able to respond to experiencing this pleasant tingling vibration.
- Taste the way your feet feel: up to the ankles, calves, shins, knees, thighs, inner thighs, back of the thighs, hips, pelvis, genitals and buttocks.
- Feel the energy in your legs and pelvis, feel the space around your feet, and allow your awareness to move throughout this area at your own comfortable pace. Again, enjoy the way it feels, and allow yourself to know with your real now experience.
- Forget how your feet look, and instead feel yourself and your body as you really are. Feel your feet being transparent and clear.
Relax your stomach and abdomen, and allow your breathing to be normal, free, unrestricted. Feel your belly rise and fall with each breath, and feel how this gentle, continuous movement ripples throughout your body and can be felt everywhere. Ride the breath, be aware of your breathing, taste the air both on inhalation and exhalation.
Continue to slowly bring your awareness up through your torso, and let the movement of your breathing relax your lower back, diaphragm, ribs, chest, heart. Allow this entire area to relax, expand and become relaxed. Leave every sign of holding. Let go completely.
- Relax your neck, throat, face and head. Relax your mouth, corners of your mouth, lips, jaw.
- Relax your nose, your cheeks, your ears, the back of your head, the muscles of your scalp, your forehead, your eyebrows, and especially your eyes.
- Relax the muscles around the eyes, the muscles deep in the eye sockets, the inner corner of each eye, the outer corner, the space between the eyes, the eyelids, the eyelids, the eyeball itself, the pupils. Have complete information about this whole area. Soften your every tension, even the little ones, even just a little.
- Also relax the areas that don’t feel tense. Relax everywhere, let your eyes fall backwards from the lids.
- Let go of all those normal stresses that you feel like. Feel the energy in your face and glow.
- Feel the space inside your body and the space around your body.
- Notice that as you relax and expand, every tension evaporates, disappearing. It may also begin to feel like your body isn’t there, as if there’s only a wide open space.
- Be aware of what is happening. You are releasing tension, melting, and therefore expanding – everywhere. You are consciously releasing all the knots in your energy field, all the areas of constricted, held, blocked energy.
- Furthermore, you are clarifying, purifying, consciously cleansing yourself.
- Your real now experience of yourself is becoming less dense, less blocked or in a sense less physical, more and more transparent or luminous, more consciously spiritual.
- Notice how comfortable you are, how awake and comfortable you are, perhaps unusual at first, but normal, familiar. It’s nice to let yourself be open to it. Enjoy the way you feel.
- Continue to strain until nothing is left, until you feel like the sky is wide open.
- This vast, conscious rest is known as the “sky of mind” or pure conscious awareness, and resting in such a way in yourself is how you can consciously experience your oneness with the infinite.
- Become fully aware of what it feels like to be this open, relaxed, fearless, and vulnerable. Feel the peace of peace.
- You will expand as you relax. You will start to feel bigger, bigger, bigger.
- Very soon it will seem that you—awareness—are infinite; Not limited, not limited in the sense of infinite, that you thought you were not merely a “body”, that you cannot really feel a limit or stopping point where your consciousness is, where you are – and that You are therefore not only the body, nor the body with the mind, but the space, the mind, or the awareness in which everything you know is happening. Therefore, your “real” body is mental. For example, that aeroplane or the sound of a barking dog is happening with your awareness.
- The wind is blowing through the trees within your awareness. Your experience of the “being” of the body is also happening with awareness.
- Everything you know is happening within your awareness. And so, and that’s the point, you are the awareness in which everything is happening.
- You are awareness, especially being aware. You are so big, you are infinite and unique, both at the same time.
- Relax inside, expand, forget about yourself as the “body” and live with your real now experience.
- Feel yourself as vast, vast, without limits, infinite. Experience the peace of infinite existence.
- It is like a wave at rest in itself and thus experiencing its inherent oceanic nature—that is, experiencing itself as the whole ocean (!) in both its infinite and distinct aspects. When this happens comes a whole new sense of identity.
- Actually, this is not a new identity. But it is a new sense of identity – a less limited, more comfortable sense – because you may not be comfortable if you entertain limited or false self-concepts.
- It’s like trying to be comfortable in shoes that once fit but are now too small. It doesn’t work. Furthermore, it can’t work. But if you drop all the concepts, all the ideas about who you are and what you are, all the tension, self-criticism, and limiting definitions – and then be there for the experience – you find yourself in a new and expanded way.
- You will experience the natural ease or joy of being, which is a constant sense of your true nature. You will automatically come to new conclusions, new definitions about yourself and your source, the mind.
- So, be mindful of what you find yourself in knowing when you are open and relaxed.
- If any part of your body is tense or contracted as you lie down in relaxation pose, you are not as comfortable as you could be – even if it seems normal, and you may not be feeling any obvious sensations of discomfort.
- You cannot be contracted or tense and comfortable. Tension is uncomfortable. Contraction constriction, throttling, blocking energy. But as you become more sensitive to subtle sensations of tension and the subtle degree of retention, and as you consciously release these tensions and feel yourself expanding, so does your awareness.
- The increasingly pleasurable experience of being uninterested in will reveal who you really are, and any areas of physical discomfort will disappear into wide open, tingling space.
- Relaxation is your natural state. Take a rest in it. Be one with it. Realize it’s you, already.
- In other words, when you release every tension in your body and every sense of need to maintain or protect yourself, it’s not like there’s nothing there. The tension will go away.
- Instead, you will have a clear, distorted experience: an experience of peace, of bliss. Feel the joy, It is right there, right here. Slide in it.
- The more familiar you are with this comfort, the easier it will be to stay that way – and the more obvious it will be to you when you inadvertently contract and become self-protective and defensive again.
- Relax in yourself and feel what is happening where you are.
- Take ease in the idea that you are consciousness as being exclusively conscious, and that your body, which you have so far identified as “you”, is actually an experience within the consciousness that you are.
- You are not merely an awareness within the three-dimensional body, subject to birth and death.
- You are the Mind, the Awareness, the Consciousness, the Particularly Conscious Being, the Particularly Conscious and the Perceptually Tangible.
- It is not difficult to access or experience it, as it is what you already are and always have been.
- It is simply a matter of letting go of everything you think you know to be who you are and then sticking with your real now experience – the experience of being conscious, that is, your consciousness.
- The technique, remember, is essentially simple. All you do:
- Relax your body;
- Feel the energy (mind) of which you are made, feel the bliss; And
- Be aware of what you find yourself in, knowing when you are like this.
- Keep it simple: Relax, feel and see what happens.
- Just stay in the experience and pay attention to what’s really happening right now.
- Enjoy the way you feel while doing this, and allow yourself to become completely familiar with how it feels to be completely relaxed. Let it soak in deeply.
- Allow the deeply soothing experience of deep inner peace to saturate your conscious awareness.
- Be aware of what is happening. You are not just relaxing your muscles. You are experiencing God! Melt down in your real now experience. Let yourself be where you are. Surrender, merge – completely.
- Let it feel like you are comforting the universe – or better, you are relaxing the universe. Let your whole body be happy. Such is the feeling of love. Rest in Shavasana for 3 to 20 minutes.
- When you’ve had enough, you’ll know. At that point, prepare yourself and open your eyes. However, just before you open your eyes, be aware of how relaxed you are, how at ease, how calm, and then open your eyes without disturbing your peace—without squinting and tightening.
- Be relaxed, spacious, unrestricted and wide open, and be like a child seeing the world for the first time.
- Look at things without being completely sure of what each means. Enjoy this awareness. Then roll over to your side, stay there for a few moments, and sit in a meditative posture.
Precautions and contraindications
Certainly, it cannot be said that this yoga asana has contraindications, but it can certainly be said that it is a difficult yoga posture to practice and master on its own. The best way to put it would be that there are some people who may not find this yoga posture comfortable, and a lot may be related to their personality and their jobs.
Below are some cases where Shavasana may not help during practice. In such situations, it is better to do one-on-one classes with a yoga teacher/instructor.
Let’s look at a few cases:
- If you don’t find the pose appropriate or sufficient to feel the need for Mrtasana (Corpse Pose), then the whole purpose of this relaxation pose is counterproductive.
- A very distracted or disturbed state of mind will find it difficult to relax and by pushing your body, it will only backfire and cause more irritation and headaches.
- If your body is in too much pain, it is going to be challenging to move your mind away from your body in order to relax.
- If you severe acidity, you may find it very uncomfortable to lie on your back, as the food pipe can be irritated.
- Individuals with lower back injuries should keep their knees bent and their feet flat on the ground at a comfortable distance from their hips.