At the beginning of a yoga class I ask students if there’s anything they want to focus on—a pose, a part of their body, an emotion…
I had a student; I’ll call her Beth, who always asked for corpse pose. And she wanted to do it for the entire class. Yoga’s corpse pose or savasana is the final resting pose at the end of class.
Beth not only joked about wanting to spend the entire class in this pose, she also requested milk and cookies as it reminded her of nap time at pre-school.
Why Beth was right
Our western culture values action over rest. And subscribing to that philosophy contributes to your stress, tight muscles, sleepless nights, upset stomach…. Corpse pose offers you a great place to practice non-doing, to experience deep rest.
Even though the pose reminded Beth of a nap, your goal is to stay awake and be aware. The resting of corpse pose offers profound effects. You can enhance the effects by
- Making sure you’re not going to be cold.
- Using an eye bag to block out light.
- Finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
- If you have a time restriction, then set a quiet alarm. I like the cricket sound on my phone.
- Practice regularly.
How to Be a Good Corpse
To practice corpse pose, come on to your back. Your legs are about hip distance apart. Place your arms by your sides, palms face up. If your low back is uncomfortable with your legs extended, then place your feet on the floor, a little further than hips distance apart, and lean your knees on each other.
Once you’re in the pose draw your focus to your breath. Continue to watch your breath until you’re ready to come out of the pose. Then roll on to one side. Stay there for a few breaths. Let the relaxation of the pose come with you as you transition back to a seated position.
Great for long workdays, travel, any time when your stress level is too high. Use it for recovery. Use it for prevention. Give it a try and then share your experience. What did you notice?