Author: Madeleine Grainger, Yoga Practitioner & Writer
While you may think the hardest yoga pose is bending your body in half or flexing your legs up and behind your head, all while maintaining a synchronised breathing and calm composure. I personally find that Savasana is the hardest yoga pose. I know what you’re thinking, isn’t Savasana the final relaxation in which you lie flat on your back, no strenuous physical exertion, just simply laying down. Though it may look like a nap at the end of your yoga practice, do not underestimate the power of Savasana. It has been called one of the most difficult of the asanas by yoga guru BKS Iyengar, and one that I find the most challenging of all yoga poses and here’s why.
At the end of a hard and tiresome yoga practice, it gets to the time when the instructor calls for relaxation and to lay in Savasana. I think to myself, this sounds like a fantastic idea, to rest my tired body and have a nice lay down after a tiresome practice. But I soon come to realise it is not as simple as it sounds.
I lay down and about 30 seconds into it, my mind starts to wander. The soft, calming voice in the room disappears and I begin to ask myself life’s unanswered questions like, ‘What will I be eating for dinner?’, ‘Who is going to die next on Game of Thrones?’ and ‘Isn’t Disneyland just a people trap operated by a mouse?’ Suddenly I remember where I am, laying on my yoga mat, surrounded by fellow yogis. The sound of snoring, deep breathing and the voice of my instructor guiding us in our relaxation. But my mind is still ticking and I become restless. How long have I laid here for, 10 minutes, an hour, a day!? Then I hear it, the instructor telling us that the relaxation is over and to come up into a seated position. I jump up and bring my hands to prayer, I look up to see any sign that the instructor had witnessed my failure, but she looks tranquil as we say ‘namaste’ in harmony.
The aim of Savasana is to remain motionless for some time and keep the mind still while you are fully conscious, and when you get to this point, you learn to relax. Sava means corpse and it is the objective of this asana to imitate a corpse. For some, this may be simple, but for others, this will be challenging, especially those with active minds. There may be those in your practice that you can hear snoring, who although are relaxed, are not getting the full benefits of Savasana. Which is to be ultimately relaxed while remaining fully conscious. On the other hand, for someone like me, relaxing is the hardest part. My mind keeps ticking and thinking about what I could be doing instead.
I began to dread relaxation and would walk out before it started because I couldn’t bare it. I thought I had gone unnoticed, but on one occasion, before class when I was showing my teacher my new yoga mat, she asked me why I didn’t stay for relaxation. Busted! My mind began to think of lists of excuses, a train I had to catch or a dinner party I coincidently had to attend every Tuesday night but no, this was Susan, my yoga teacher, my friend. I am an honest person and so I told her the truth. I waited to be told that I was a useless yogi, who is not spiritually composed, a failure!
But wait, she smiled and explained that Savasana is known for being one of the hardest poses in yoga, quoting back to yoga guru, BKS Iyengar who stated “This conscious relaxation invigorates and refreshes both body and mind. But it is much harder to keep the mind than the body still. Therefore, this apparently easy posture is one of the most difficult to master.” Susan went on to tell me how it had taken her years to achieve and even then, she sometimes finds it a challenge. I couldn’t believe it; Susan was once just like me. I felt so relieved that I was not alone. She went on to explain that Savasana is a gift, one that can serve as a starting point for mediation. Explaining that people study it for many years and still do not reach their utmost potential. She declared it to be one of the most rewarding gifts in which you reach a relaxed and peaceful state that you have never been to before.
Susan then gave me some tips to help me in Savasana such as; putting a towel over my eyes for more privacy, to be warm and put more layers on, and suggested I put a blanket beneath my head for comfort. She also reassured me that if my mind did wander to pause without any strain after each slow exhalation. But not to punish myself and if you do get distracted, just simply re-focus.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an instant thing. I struggled in the next class, and the one after that. But it got better, Susan would ask me how I felt after each relaxation and I would be honest. With time, I improved and began to relax with attention, I was conscious and alert but at ease. And Susan was right, it was the most divine, rewarding, and out of this world feeling. I came out feeling refreshed, releasing long-held tensions, and ready to tackle the next day with a positive outlook.
So, if like me, Savasana is the hardest yoga post, don’t give up and practice it. Get comfy, keep warm, put a blanket on, have a cushion behind your head, bend your knees, anything that will help you relieve pressure and reach full relaxation. There are so many benefits to Savasana, according to Yoga Journal; it conditions your body to release stress, calms the brain, relaxes the body, reduces headaches, fatigue, and insomnia. But I get it, sometimes relaxing can feel impossible when there is so much going on in your busy, chaotic life. Nevertheless, it is important to relax and take time out for yourself. Practice it, however many times it takes, you will get there, and you will be forever grateful.
Tips to help you in Savasana
- Keep the eyes closed
- Be warm, put more layers on; blanket, socks, jumper etc.
- Place a pillow beneath your head and neck. If you’re feeling extra fancy, shop our range of vibrant and colourful Cushion Covers and relax in style! My favourite is the gorgeous Green Peacock Cushion Cover.
- Place a cloth or eye bag over your eyes to block out the light and feel more private, I use our lavender scented Silk Eye Pillows, available in a range of pretty colours, to add calmness to the mind during Savasana
- To release tension in the lower back, place a blanket beneath your knees or bend your knees with feet placed on your mat
- Practice before bedtime, for those who struggle with insomnia, practicing Savasana before you sleep can encourage a deep and quality sleep
- If practicing at home, place your mat in front of a chair or a sofa and elevate your legs, placing the back of your calves on the chair/sofa, this improve circulation and releases muscle tension in the back
- If practicing at home, you can enjoy meditation comforts such as divine incense and scented candles that assist you into your relaxed state.
- My favourite prop that has helped me greatly when practicing Savasana at home is the Incense Magic Fragrant Cones. These provide a blissful fragrance and provide a calming space that allows me to remain conscious while in a fully relaxed state.
The Benefits of Savasana
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress
- Relaxes the body
- Decrease in heart rate
- Decrease in blood pressure
- Reduces general anxiety
- Reduces headache, fatigue, and insomnia
- Increase in energy levels
- Improves concentration
- Experiencing peace
Live long, live heathy, and live happy!
 BKS Iyengar, ‘Light On Yoga’, (London, Unwin Paperbacks, 1976) p.422