Pose of the Week: Savasana
This week’s pose is Savasana. Sava = Corpse and Asana = Pose/Posture. But you knew that already, didn’t you?! It’s one of the first Sanskrit words that are embedded in your memory!
It’s the asana you do at the end of your practice. But Geeta Iyengar (who sadly passed away on 16 December) says it’s a practice that can be done on its own. All you need is time and a quiet space. However, it also requires discipline, to lie still without fidgeting. It’s only when you can detach yourself from the distraction of the body that you can enter a true state of Savasana.
It is a state of quietude and release. It involves the science of paying attention to come into the present moment. In Light on Pranayama, BKS Iyengar dedicates a whole chapter to Savasana (pp.232-254), where he says “It means relaxation, therefore recuperation. It is not simply lying on one’s back with a vacant mind and gazing, nor does it end in snoring. It is the most difficult of yogic asanas to perfect, but it also is the most refreshing and rewarding” (p.23).
It takes practice, like all asanas. And in the beginning there is a resistance. As Guruji says “Savasana is difficult to learn as it involves stilling the body, the senses and the mind while keeping the intellect alert” (p.234).
Savasana teaches us how to withdraw our senses (Pratyahara – 5th limb of 8 limbs of Patanjali’s yoga). It is also through the breath and control of the breath (Pranayama – the 4th limb) that we can access a state of Savasana. The breath is the bridge from the outside to enter inside.
So start by giving yourself some space and time. Lie down, taking care to lie completely straight (see Light on Pranayama p. 232-254 for detailed instructions). Work at completely relaxing the body, the skin and the organs of perception. Let the breath flow steadily and evenly. Focus on the exhalation. Exhale softly, deeply and longer than the inhale. Immerse yourself in your breath. Each exhale brings you more towards your Self and “purges [your] brain of all its tensions and activities. Exhalation is the best form of surrender” (p.249).
See you on the mat 🙂