There’s a reason over 40 million people do yoga across the U.S. It not only improves your physical health but it can also aid with your mental health as well as individual spiritual growth.
However, although you may practice yoga, particularly asanas or poses, you often might not know why you do each pose. One pose that gets either left out of a yoga sequence or is misunderstood is savasana or corpse pose.
Learn about the benefits of this restorative pose and why it’s essential every time you practice yoga asana.
1. Realign the Spine
Whether you practice yoga poses for hyper-mobility, to lose weight, or to prepare for meditation, it usually requires a lot of bending and twisting of the spine. Your body gets placed in not-so-common positions during your practice and sometimes we forget that it should return to its normal state.
This is why savasana should be the last pose in your sequence. Like tadasana (mountain pose) it is the origin pose of all other asanas. You need to return your spine to this straight position by lying flat on your back for at least 2 minutes at the end of your practice. However, most savasanas last between 5 to 15 minutes or more.
2. Reflect and Integrate Asana Practice
Another benefit of corpse pose at the end of your practice is that it offers you time for reflection. Imagine jumping off of your mat after doing a warrior sequence and going to have lunch or scroll the internet. Yoga is more than a quick exercise, it is a practice because it takes time and patience.
By lying in savasana, you can scan your body to feel the difference your practice had on your physical structure. You can also take this time to clear your mind to see what pops into your thoughts and needs your attention.
An assessment of your practice helps you understand its benefits and what you might want to try next time.
3. Improve Sleep
There aren’t many types of exercises that can put you to sleep at the end of your workout. Savasana does just that because it is a restorative pose, it gives your muscles the chance to take a break after so much movement.
The practice of Yoga Nidra, which uses savasana to put you into a yogic sleep, also improves sleep quality. Nidra means sleep and in this practice, your mind stays in a middle state between sleep and awake to promote healing.
It is claimed that a 45-minute Yoga Nidra session could equate to about 3 hours of sleep because of its restorative nature in savasana.
4. Relieves Stress
One of the main yoga benefits is its stress-relief properties. Exercise in general promotes the release of mood-enhancing hormones like dopamine and serotonin, which can help with stress.
Savasana takes stress relief a step further by activating the sympathetic nervous system that turns off fight or flight mode. This stops the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, and places the body and mind into a state of natural euphoria.
This is the perfect end to either a vigorous vinyasa flow or a slow restorative practice. It is the final resting pose that melts your stress away.
5. Restore the Mind and Body
As mentioned, savasana is highly restorative. It has the ability to calm the muscles after a lot of physical stretching and movement of the body.
Because your whole body is touching the ground, all the muscles can relax and begin to be rejuvenated. You may even become so relaxed that you fall asleep in savasana, which is normal and even beneficial. This means your mind and body have completely let go and during this short sleep your muscles, tendons, and joints will also rest.
This state of ultimate rest is when your body can integrate all the work you did before savasana. This will help you in your next practice session by being stronger, more flexible, and aware of your body.
6. Has Few Contraindications and Is Good for Health
Savasana doesn’t have many contraindications, so almost anyone can practice this pose to improve their health.
For example, there are many min-inversions that shouldn’t be used for people with high blood pressure. But savasana works for these conditions. In fact, when it comes to your health, one of the best savasana benefits is that it can lower blood pressure. Use this pose to relieve headache pain caused by high blood pressure. Or use it after doing poses that place your heart above your head in an inversion.
Some specific contraindications that may cause you to not lie flat on your back include:
- Back Pain
- Acid Reflux
It is always important to speak with your doctor about certain yoga poses and exercises, especially if you are experiencing any pain.
7. Preserve Your Yoga Practice
Yoga is a lifestyle so it should follow you wherever you go, not just on the mat. To keep your practice with you throughout the day, savasana has the power to place it deep within you.
When you gain the benefits mentioned in this list, you also gain the insight of yoga. This is the reason that you practice. Whether your goal is strength building, weight management, or stress relief, you choose yoga for a reason beyond the physical body.
Savasana preserves these core values of yoga so that you can take it with you wherever you go, keeping the emotions and concepts with you at all times.
Getting Started With Savasana
Whether you practice yoga asana already or not, there’s no better time to add in savasana. Be sure to make yourself comfortable, which might include using a thick mat, placing a pillow under your head or knees, or using a blanket to cover your body. Begin lying down for the minimum amount of time and increasing the time each session.
Remember that each time you come to your mat, you are offering yourself another opportunity to guide yourself toward the path of self-love. Continue enhancing your practice by reading more of our asana practice articles.