Author: Randeep Singh / go to all Techniques of Yoga articles
Savasana, Release the Body parts in Corpse Pose
In common parlance,
the term “living” or “live” corresponds
to a visible activity.
Lively is a personality trait linked
to being talkative, or being active physically.
Physical activity is exhaustive of the energy
we ingest from the food we eat and the
oxygen we inhale from the atmosphere around us.
For leading a healthy life we need to keep on replenishing this loss of energy at proper intervals, also the energy ingested should be able to flow freely within the body for consumption at the farthest ends; the cells. The mind plays a crucial role in guiding the ingested energy, prana, to the various systems of the body, the Chinese meridians concept as a part of the Chinese traditional medicine system also supports this concept. The mind is in itself nothing but packets of energy, thoughts, in a waveform.
The mind waves exhibit different frequencies with different states of the mind: relaxed and stressed ( agitated). The energy waves of the mind in a relaxed state are known as Alpha waves and the ones in a stressed state are known as Beta waves.
The hectic rigmarole of the fast-paced daily living leads to the mind staying in the Beta state for longer periods also known as stress. This stress from the mind is transferred to the physical body via the spinal cord which emerges from the brain, the physical base of the mind, and divides further into millions of nerves connected to every living part on the human system.
The natural impulse of the stress upon landing on the body systems is to tense them up by constricting them inwards. This reduces the inflow of the nourishing blood from the blood vessels and the prana, energy from the nerves to these systems.
In case the mind stays in this state ( beta mode) for longer it can give rise to a lot of mental and physical afflictions depending upon the general health ( resisting power) of the body. Anxiety, loss of memory, cardiac issues are some of the diseases which have their origin in the stressed-out mind.
Yoga as well as certain innovative ideas from day to day living offers us ways and techniques of dissipating stress by reversing the mind to the Alpha state using the body and the mind ( thoughts) itself. One of such relaxation techniques is known is Savasana or the Corpse pose as in this pose the body resembles a corpse externally. This yoga asana forms a very crucial part of the yoga for stress relief.
How to do Corpse pose’s Steps Simplified
- Sit in Dandasana or the Stick pose, Exhale, fold the knees towards the head, place the feet closer to the hips, inhale, lengthen your spine upward by lifting the chest
- Inhale, roll the extended spine backward and down till the torso rests on the mat, lengthening the spine toward the head, drop the lower back on the mat exhaling, take the weight of the torso on the forearm
- Extend the legs straight by lowering the knees to the mat while inhaling, extend and slide your arms 10 inches away from the body ( 20 degrees from the body) with the palms facing upward and relaxed, drop the shoulders on the mat while slightly rolling the arms outward
- Inhaling spread (abduct) the legs 20 inches away from each other (40 degrees outward ) with the feet relaxed, legs rotated outward and toes falling away from the body
- Take a deep inhalation and lengthen/ pull the neck out of the shoulders to make it leveled
- inhale and lift the right leg up by around 5 cms, hold the breath for a while, concentrate on the contraction of the muscle, exhale and drop the leg lightly back on the mat, take a few normal breaths, similarly repeat with the left leg
- Make fists of your palms, raise your arms above the mat by around 5 cms ( 2 Inches) while inhaling, hold the breath, exhale and drop the arms to the mat and relax, repeat this action with the arms once again by keeping the palms open and stretching the fingers out
- Contract the buttocks and lift them slightly above the mat while inhaling, hold the breath, exhale and drop the buttocks back on to the mat, relax
- Lift the chest up while inhaling, let the shoulder blades move towards each other, hold the breath, exhale and drop the chest back on to the mat relaxing it in the process
- Pull the shoulders up toward the ears in the process sliding the arms up, hold the breath, contract the shoulder muscles while holding the breath, exhale and release the shoulders to the starting relaxed position
- Twitch, contract the muscles of the face while inhaling, hold the breath while maintaining the contracted facial muscles, exhale and relax the facial muscles back to the normal
- Open the mouth while inhaling, stretch the tongue out pointing it toward the chin, look in between the eyebrows, hold the breath for a while, exhale and release
- Turn the head to one side while inhaling, roll it to the other side while exhaling, make sure the head stays in contact with the mat and the chin is bent in towards the throat while making these movements
- Take a few breaths from the mouth in order to release any trapped air within the trachea, sinuses or the mouth, this will induce relaxation in these areas, now the body is prepared to slide into savasana, slightly close the eyes by dropping the upper lid on the lower one
- Now take the mind to the 16 body parts ( listed below) one by one, starting from the toes and reaching the scalp, mentally drop the body part, where the mind has been taken to, to the pull of the gravity releasing it completely from the hold of the mind, relaxing it in the process
The sixteen body parts ( also known as Marmasthanas, or sensitive areas) are –
- Tips of the toes
- The ankles
- The knees
- The thighs
- The anus
- The genitals
- The navel
- The stomach
- The Heart
- The neck
- The lips
- Tip of the nose
- The eyes
- The space between the eyebrows
- The forehead
- The scalp ( top of the head)
Once all the marmasthanas have been relaxed sequentially in this manner, concentrate on the movement of the navel with the flow of the breath and stay still up till a minimum of 5 minutes.
Now slowly make movements in the hands and the feet in order to awaken them first out of the hazy trance the mind and the body had slipped into while it was in Savasana. Slide the feet toward each other join the legs together. Lift the arms while inhaling and swing them up, over the head and rest them beyond the head completely stretching them out in the yashtik asanas position.
Interlock the fingers, turn the palms out, turn the toes in and heels out, and again stretch the entire body by extending the arms and the feet in the opposite directions. Release, repeat the lengthwise stretching of the body again by extending the toes outward in line with the extended legs and keeping the heels turned inward.
Release, Turn on one side, make pillow by folding the lower arm and rest the head on it. Extend the legs out straight putting the body in a straight line from head to toes. Extend the upper arm along the length of the body over the side of the abdomen and the hips Stay in this position for a while with the eyes closed.
Keep the mind focused on the flow of the breath. Now place the palm of the arm which is above on the mat in front of the chest, for support. Press on this palm and lift the body up, sit in any meditative posture, keep the eyes closed.
End Savasana by chanting ” Om” three times. Stay with the vibrations for a while and then slowly open the eyes.
Corpse Pose – Fine Corrections, Modifications & Variations
- Avoid spreading the arms wider away from the body than recommended for savasana, as this would stretch the associated muscles challenging the effort to relax them
- Most important is to stay still for the entire duration one is in savasana, being fidgety will impede any attempts made to relax the mind
- The eyes need to be kept closed, as one slowly loses oneself to savasana the blood pressure drops, this can lead to the feeling of sleepiness, do not fall asleep, stay awake and yet relaxed
- In case the neck or the shoulders feel uncomfortable, place the palms over the abdomen, or for people who have well-developed shoulder muscles keeping the hands near the head, and elbows bent at right angles provides the needed comfort for relaxation
- In case the lower back is not feeling comfortable fold the knees and keep the feet near to the hips, now aided by the hands under hips, extend the lower back toward the feet and place it down on the mat keeping it extended, now stretch the legs out by lower the knees
- A rolled towel if placed under the extended knees will release any tension from the lower back
- One can even do savasana in Makrasana, lying on the abdomen, heels apart, toes touching, arms crossed under the head as a support
- Pregnant ladies can lie on the side by placing a pillow under the head and another between the legs
- Corpse pose if maintained for a longer period – up to one hour – is known as yoga nidra or yoga nidra
- In case the entire body parts are resigned to the force of gravity simultaneously, not part by part ( partial savasana) it is known as complete savasana
- An indicator of a good corpse pose is that the practitioner completely loses the consciousness, awareness of the physical body
- While relaxing the marmasthanas – body parts- one by one do not concentrate on these parts, it is more about resigning the body to the law of gravity
- If one feels dizzy while doing corpse pose it indicates that one is tired and needs to eat
- Delusions during this savasana are not good, they can be avoided by doing it with Yogendra laya
- The body can feel minor jerks while bringing the mind on the marmasthanas in case all the muscles in the body are not relaxed
When not to do Savasana – Contraindications
- Anyone suffering from clinical depression must avoid doing the corpse pose or do it only for a shorter duration, 5 mins, depressed people think a lot during savasana due to lack of awareness
- Anyone suffering from low blood pressure must also do savasana only for a shorter duration of time, 5 mins
- Asthma and cardiac patients must elevate their torso and head while doing savasana
Duration for Savasana
Savasana can be done for a minimum of 3 minutes and a maximum of 10 minutes.
Body Reading – Knowing the body through Savasana
- As a rule, the feet must be spread out to 45 degrees, not being able to achieve this indicates weak external hip rotators and tight internal hip rotators
- If the shoulder blades are not comfortably placed on the mat, the pectoral muscles are tight
- In case the upper chest ( pectoralis major muscle) is short, upper back ( trapezius muscle) is tight, and the flexors of the neck ( sternocleidomastoid) are weak the chin will remain pointed up, not at level with the forehead
Benefits of doing Savasana
- Corpse pose in association with cues on visualization can help conquer addictions
- This posture help alleviate the feelings of anger and anxiety
- Savasana is a relaxation technique which is most effective with stress relief
- It lowers the lactate levels of the blood which induce fatigue in the body, any yoga curriculum for reducing fatigue cannot do without this relaxation technique
- it is very good for healing any psychosomatic disease
- Savasana facilitates the exploration of the subconscious which is difficult to achieve under a normal restless state of the mind
- It benefits by lowering the blood pressure or fighting hypertension when the attention is kept on the flow of the breath within the nose, a study on the same authenticates these benefits.
- Regular practice of savasana strengthens the mental stamina
- If a goal is visualized at the beginning and end of corpse pose the mind develops confidence and conviction to achieve the same, savasana is always a good choice for including in yoga for enhanced confidence
- This pose can help release ( through tears) any traumatic emotions held up within oneself
- If one focuses on the navel region during savasana then it will benefit the physiological activities more, if the attention is maintained on the nose it will benefit the spiritual growth of the practitioner
- The life span is increased by the regular practice of savasana
- The minimum hours required for sleep are reduced with savasana
What Happens during Savasana?
Savasana is more about resigning the body to the law of gravity ( the law of nature). The impact of gravity is minimum on a body which is aligned horizontally to the floor as in Savasana. In the absence of gravity, the prana can flow freely with the breath while the mind is kept on the breathing process. The energy is directed to the organs under involuntary control of the mind from the ones which are under the voluntary control of the mind.
In savasana relaxation is experienced at two levels: the muscles and the mind. This technique of savasana is known as partial savasana because here the concentration is maintained on the body parts, not breath, with complete awareness throughout. This benefits a number of psychosomatic disorders. after all the marmasthanas have been relaxed one should watch one’s breath at the navel area, at the nose tip in case of an experienced practitioner.