Shavasana pose, The Corpse Pose also often called the corpse pose, is a yogic posture practised among our people since time immemorial. Practising this posture regularly over time is said to (and indeed does) have several positive effects on our body and mind. But, before we venture further into this pose, some of us may ask ourselves a question – what is yoga?
The Shavasana, or the Corpse Pose
We shall talk about one particular yogic posture today – the Shavasana, or as often called the Corpse Pose. It is one of the most underrated and misunderstood postures among the Yogic poses; the apparent simplicity of this pose conceals the difficulty of achieving a state of complete relaxation necessary for this posture.
This posture, or asana, helps relax the stretched, overworked muscles after enduring the strain of the other, more demanding postures. This posture is greatly beneficial to our body: indeed, it is safe to say that it is one of the most important and beneficial yogic poses known to mankind. It is a pose with great positive effects and assists in reducing strain and tension in overworked muscles and joints after a tiring session of yogic postures. Thus we can easily comprehend the importance of this pose.
Now that we have a basic idea about the posture itself and all its advantages, let us now try and see how we can execute this pose correctly.
Procedure of Shavasana, The Corpse Pose
1) The Shavasana requires the body to be in a state of complete neutrality: any form of tenseness in the body would interfere in the desired effects of this pose. As such, we may commence by sitting on the floor (or the yoga mat as the case may be) upon bent knees, feet as flat on the floor as possible. Once the said position has been attained, we lift our pelvic region ever so slightly and push it back towards the coccyx with the assistance of our hands and gently lower it back onto the floor. We then proceed to breathe in and gradually straighten the right and left legs, applying pressure with the aid of the heels. We proceed to let both legs drop to the ground and allow our groin muscles to relax. It must be ensured that the legs are angled equally with respect to the central upper body and that the feet are revolved equally in the outward direction. We must hereafter narrow the hips and relax the lower back, without flattening it against the ground.
2) We then distance our head away from the topmost region of the neck with our hands and proceed to drop the back of the neck towards the coccyx. In the event of any difficulty encountered whilst doing this, we may support the back of the head and neck on a support, for example a firm pillow, cushion or a folded blanket. We then proceed to expand the region of the neck supporting the head, and lead the nape of the neck diagonally to the central region of the skull. It is necessary to ensure that our ears are at equal distances from our shoulders.
3) We must then outstretch our arms upwards, in a direction such that the arms travel perpendicular to the floor. A slight to and fro movement to the sides may be executed to expand the rear ribs and shoulder blade regions and distance them away from the vertebral column. We may then relax the arms and drop them to the floor, such that they are angled evenly to the central line of the upper body. We proceed to rotate the arms in the outward direction and extend them in such a manner so as to distance them away from the cavity present in between the shoulder blades. We then gently drop the backs of our hands on the floor such that they are placed as close as possible to the first index finger joints but we retain our comfort. We must ensure that the shoulder blade regions are evenly rested on the surface we are executing the posture.
4) Relaxing the sensory organs hold as much importance in Savasana as silencing the body. We must soften the tongue, the nose, the canals of the inner ears, and the forehead, especially around the region between the eyebrows. We may let the eyes drop to the back of their sockets, then roll them down as if we were gazing in the direction of our heart. We must relax our brain and let it recede to the back of the head.
5) For every half an hour of practicing other postures, we must perform this pose for approximately five minutes. To terminate this posture, we must first roll gently accompanied by an escape of breath onto one side. We then pause, followed by two or three deep and slow inhalations. With another steady expulsion of breath we place our hands on the floor and pressing against it, we utilize the reactionary force to push our upper body up, gradually carrying our head after it. Ideally the head would come up last.
Thus this is how we may exercise the shavasan posture. Preferably this posture may be done on a yoga mat.
Benefits of Shavasana, The Corpse Pose
• Helps to calm the mind and assists in alleviating stress and mild depression
• Relaxes the body
• Helps in combating headache, fatigue, and insomnia
• Helps to lower excess blood pressure
Contraindications of Shavasana, The Corpse Pose
• Back injury or discomfort: In case of the presence of such a condition one must perform this posture with their knees bent and their feet on the floor, a distance about the length of the pelvic region apart; We may either lock the thighs parallel to each other with a strap (ensuring they aren’t too close to the buttocks) or support the bent knees on a firm pillow or bolster.
• Pregnancy: Pregnant ladies may raise their head and chest on a support so that the developing fetus doesn’t face any obstruction.
Modifications of Shavasana, The Corpse Pose
Sometimes after a yogic posture session involving a large amount of outward rotation of the legs, it may feel better to perform this pose with the legs turned inwards instead of outwards. As such, we may take a strap and make a small loop, and then sit on the floor with our knees bent mildly and bring the loop over the thumb toes. We may then lie on the ground and turn our thighs comfortingly inward by sliding our heels away from each other. The loop helps to maintain the legs in such a way as to retain the opposite turning of the legs.
Conclusion of Shavasana, The Corpse Pose
The positive impacts of the Shavasana posture are many – indeed, we may undeniably accept that this posture holds a very important place among the various postures in Yoga. Such gracefulness, such calmness is rarely observed, if ever so. And the benefits of this pose towards physical and mental health are countless. Hence we may conclude here acknowledging that the yogic posture, needless to say, is a fruit of an ancient civilization gifted unto us – we must attempt to practice it and reap the many benefits it offers, and make a step towards a healthier body and a healthier mind through the path of Yoga.
Read our article on Urdhva Hastasana or The Upward Salute Pose.
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