Corpse Pose Yoga (Shavassana): Benefits, Instructions, Variations

By Sophia Estrada
Last Updated: March 18, 2022
Corpse Pose Yoga

No session in yoga can get complete without the posture of relaxation at the end. In other words, it is the Corpse Pose yoga or Shavassana (also Mrtasana) which comes as an indispensable part for each series of yoga exercises.

For many people, it seems quite easy to do. That said, the fact shows a different story. This pose is so tough that even masters consider it one of the hardest challenges. 

The pose could cause negative effects due to wrong practices. Hence, doing the exercise properly always plays an important role. But first, it would be better to learn an overview of the Shavasana yoga pose

Corpse Pose Yoga: Overview 

What’s It? 

There are two ways yogis often call this pose, including the Corpse Pose or the Savasana. To put it simply, the “Sava” and “Asana” mean “Corpse” and “Pose”, respectively. And you can pronounce it “Shuh yah sana”.

In the past, this name got its origin from the dead body’s recumbent posture. Also, it constitutes one of both relaxation and rest. Thus, practitioners usually do it at the end of their yoga sessions. Each session typically gets started with the activity and finishes in rest for better understanding. 

The Shavassana – resting position in yoga is somehow like a cool-down exercise in aerobics. And no one can deny that it can bring tons of benefits for the body and health. 

Benefits Of Shavasana Yoga Pose

Benefits Of Shavasana Yoga Pose

When it comes to practicing Shavasana, you should let any lingering worry and thought fade away. From the darkness and depth of the pose, the practitioner gets refreshed, rejuvenated, and reborn.

The Corpse Pose Sanskrit holds a key in a therapy for stressed people. When a person is under stress, his nervous system tends to produce the one called “fight response”. For days, it results in an over-stimulation in body and mind to cause anxiety with bad effects in the body. Fortunately, the Savasana practice can help to throw it away. 

The list below relates to benefits that you can get from body relaxation with Savasana.

  • Lowering the blood pressure
  • Decreasing the heart rate
  • Slowing the rate of respiration
  • Decreasing the muscle tension
  • Decreasing the metabolic rate

Savasana tends to link to the physical response. Consequently, they can result in the following:

  • Reducing headaches
  • Relieving patients from insomnia and fatigue 
  • Lowering the nervous tension
  • Easing both panic attacks and anxiety
  • Boosting the energy level of the whole body
  • Increasing the daily productivity
  • Improving both memory and concentration 
  • Ensuring the sense of focus and a clear-headed mind 
  • Heightening the self-confidence

The Corpse Pose not only helps with the body and mind positive effects. But it also becomes helpful in connecting you with your innermost peaceful self. As a translation, the term “yoga” means “union”. In other words, it refers to a special connection among your body, mind, and spirit.

Contraindications 

In general, Shavasana is suitable for all students of a yoga class at any level. You could be a beginner, an intermediate, or an advanced practitioner, it shows the same importance. 

That said, there are still contraindications for some specific cases. For instance, this pose will not be 100% good for women at the 3rd trimester of their pregnancy. As a solution, they should prepare a blanket or bolster for better comfort.

So, why?

With the supportive preparation mentioned above, the pregnant yogis can keep their chest and head raised. Despite the support, these women or other practitioners should practice with the limit of their own only. Any “too much” thing can become an enemy for sure. 

Corpse Pose Variations & Modifications 

Variations

There are two common variations for the Corpse Pose. One is to place your legs on a chair while the other suggests supporting your head and back. 

  • Variation 1: Elevate your calves by letting your legs with a supportive relaxation since they often become fatigued during the yoga practice. This variation helps improve the blood circulation and release tension at the same time.
  • Variation 2: Elevate your back and support your head. This variation plays an important role in opening the chest, releasing the shoulders, and enhancing the natural breathing flow.

Modifications

An energetic time of Corpse Pose must be with relaxation. In case that you do not feel comfortable, it would be better to try several modifications below instead of the traditional one. 

  • Placing legs on the wall or chair
  • Preparing a pillow, blanket, or bolster under the knees
  • Placing a pillow under the neck or head 
  • Lying on the side with the pillow
  • Blocking a pillow between the knees
  • Placing a folded blanket under the arms for the shoulder support
  • Using an eye mask or pillow 
  • Lying on a blanket to maintain the body warmth
  • Sitting on a chair with a blanket to relieve strain

A Guide To Do Corpse Pose Properly

A Guide To Do Corpse Pose Properly

Step-by-step Instruction 

For an easy-to-follow guide, we divide the instruction into 13 steps as below. As mentioned above, some modifications can be a part of this process if you feel uncomfortable with the traditional pose. 

  • Step 1: Lie flat on the back with the neck away from the shoulders and the chin tucked in at the same time. Extend the legs and slightly turn them outward. Turn the hands a little away from your body with the palms up.
  • Step 2: Close the eyes, turn attention inward, and breathe as deeply as possible. Spend time checking each small part of the body to make sure that they are all in relaxation.
  • Step 3: Let your hips touch the ground. Soften the groin strain as long as lower the back.
  • Step 4: Let your shoulder blades touch evenly into the ground. At the same time, spread your collarbones.
  • Step 5: Lengthen your neck and let your head relax on the floor.
  • Step 6: Relax both arms and legs. Then, allow them to become a bit heavier.
  • Step 7: Rest and let the groins, chest, pelvis, and lower back relax touch the floor.
  • Step 8: Soften the tongue, skin, and jaw of your forehead. Leave a bit of space between teeth and let the tongue relax. 
  • Step 9: Let your eyes sink into the eye sockets.
  • Step 10: Adjust the breath to become slow and smooth.
  • Step 11: Get relaxed for around five minutes.
  • Step 12: Inhale and exhale slowly to release. Bring the knees closer to the chest. Roll the body softly to the right. Support the head with the right hand on the floor. Keep this posture for a moment.
  • Step 13: Exhale again. Push the hands onto the floor and then lift the upper body slowly. Sit up and feel totally relaxed.

Tips For Beginners 

For those who have tried the Shavasana for the first time, some tips are always ready to help. Each purpose will go in an appropriate way. 

  • Relaxing your eyes: Place gently a soft eye pillow or cloth over the eyes. It can help block the light and then keep your pupils relaxed.
  • Bringing an ease to the abdomen: Place a pillow, block, or blanket horizontally across the lower abdomen.
  • Supporting the neck: Put a cushion or blanket under the head and neck until the forehead is a bit higher than the chin.
  • Reducing tension in your lower back: Roll up a blanket and place it beneath the knees.

Common Mistakes

Mistakes while doing the Savasana potentially results in numerous pains and injuries for your body. For effective protection, we suggest digging into some common mistakes. 

Corpse Pose Yoga Common Mistakes

Finding Difficulty In Doing Nothing

One reason people view Savasana as the hardest part in yoga is not difficulty in doing the proper pose. The challenge relates to the way in which the practitioner tries to do nothing for around 10 minutes. If you fail in completing this step, the practice probably makes no sense. 

It always takes time for your body to absorb the new information. Hence, you often find it challenging to stay still immediately. Alternatively, you had better try to scan the whole body (from head to toe) for a few minutes first. Then, it is time to name each of them and start releasing. 

Keeping Mind Active

Keeping Mind Active

When your body is in the state of relaxation, your mind needs to rest at the same time. During the yoga sequence, the mind often stays calm. However, it is a must for you to maintain that calmness at rest.

Unfortunately, your mind keeps chattering during the session of Mrtasana. Don’t worry since there are always solutions. 

Our suggestion is to do a basic meditation. In other words, you try to notice your thoughts, label them, and let them go. The fact says that this tip cannot help to stop a chattering mind right away. It requires a lot of practice. 

Choosing Wrong Yoga Mats

You might think it is harmless. But the mat also holds a key contributing to the effectiveness of a yoga session. You surely need to prepare the right mat before starting Savasana. 

How can you feel relaxed with Corpse Pose on an uncomfortable mat? It could leave discomforts such as numbness and aches after moves. Besides, you might slip since the mat cannot offer enough proper support and grip. Thus, we suggest spending more time and money to invest in a high-quality yoga mat. 

Doing Wrong Postures

The following are the basics which you can level them up thanks to regular practice. In case that you do not do them properly, you might do wrong postures. 

  • Lie on the back and straighten your legs. At the same time, ensure relaxation for the arms at your sides. 
  • Place the feet in a natural position. Rest the palms which face up. And close your eyes.
  • Breathe naturally.
  • Allow the whole body to feel a bit heavy on the ground.
  • Release each body part. Relax your feet’s soles to the head crown.
  • Relax the face and feel the eyes drop into the eye sockets. Soften the jaw.
  • Focus on your mind.
  • Bring your awareness gently back to your body. Wiggle both fingers and toes. Draw the knees in with the closed eyes. Roll the body over to the left or right side.
  • Relax.

Conclusion 

The Corpse Pose yoga can be at the end of every session. That said, you can also try to do this one on its own as a possible replacement for a nap or a cup of coffee daily. 

Generally, it is not too hard to practice Shavasana. But this pose always requires your concentration at most. By regular proper practice, you can feel relaxed as well as tap into the peaceful state of your mind.

Yoga Instructor At Yoga Bear

Hi everyone, Sophia here! I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to practice yoga since I was 8 years old and I express my strong love with yoga. That’s why I would like to bring all of my knowledge and passion to help people gain a vital sense of energy, fitness and peace through helpful yoga postures and useful information.

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