Definition - What does Savasana mean?
Savasana, or shavasana is the Sanskrit name for an important restorative asana. It is a key component of asana practice in almost every yoga tradition, and is most commonly used at the end of a sequence as a means of relaxation and integration. Some schools also use it to calm the body and mind at the start of a class, and in both Sivananda and Yoga Therapy it is sometimes practiced between postures in order to calm the nervous system.
The term is derived from two Sanskrit roots; shava, meaning "corpse", and asana meaning "seat" or "posture". The first written record of savasana is found in classic 15th-century yoga text, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which says: “Lying down on the ground, like a corpse, is called savasana. It removes fatigue and gives rest to the mind”.
The common English name for savasana is corpse pose.
Yogapedia explains Savasana
Although the aim of savasana is to give rest to body and mind, it is in fact considered to be a somewhat active pose in which the practitioner should remain fully conscious and not fall asleep.
To enter savasana, the body lies face-up on the ground, with legs comfortably spread and arms relaxed alongside the body, palms facing up. The breath should be natural, and it is important that the body is in a neutral position in which prana (life force energy) can flow freely.
Generally, practitioners should enter savasana at the end of an asana practice in order to integrate the benefits of the previous postures. In such a case, the pose should be held for a minimum of five minutes, but this can be extended for any period of time that the practitioner can remain in a relaxed yet present state.
In practices such as Restorative Yoga or Yoga Nidra, savasana may be held for much longer periods of time. Conversely, when savasana is used as a resting pose between other asana, it is usually only held for a minute or so.
Savasana is believed to stimulate the muladhara (root) chakra, since the entire length of the body is connected with the earth. Energizing this chakra through savasana is deeply grounding, and cultivates the inner stillness and stability necessary for personal growth. Additional benefits of savasana include:
Increasing energy and productivity.
Improving memory, focus and concentration.
Relief from stress, headache, fatigue and insomnia.
Lowering blood pressure.
Providing deep relaxation.
Savasana is the most effective way to cultivate conscious surrender, but due to its introspective nature, it can be challenging for people with busy minds. Those who have back problems or experience discomfort when lying flat may place a bolster or rolled-up blanket beneath the knees, thereby relieving pressure from the lower back.
Savasana may not be suitable for women in the later stages of pregnancy, in which case lying on the left side with a pillow between the knees is a recommended alternative at the end of an asana practice.
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