Savasana: the hardest yoga pose?
For those with a busy mind, Savasana can be a challenge, but if you're seeking a little self-care on the yoga mat, then it's a pose worth mastering. By James Adams
Savasana – pronounced shah-vah-sah-nah – is the very first yoga asana that many students are introduced to. Also known as corpse pose, Savasana sends the practitioner into a state of deep relaxation when practiced correctly. The asana is performed by lying backwards, with arms apart, palms facing upwards, legs spread apart with feet pointing outwards. The student is asked to carry out slow, rhythmic breathing through the nostrils while placing conscious awareness on the breath.
Savasana is believed to be the hardest yoga asana. Some would question why such a simple, motionless asana would qualify as being difficult, compared to more advanced asanas such as the headstand (Sirsasana), the king of asanas. Nevertheless, most yoga teachers agree that Savasana is the trickiest for their students to master, and here’s why.
We now live in a very fast-paced, technologically evolving society where most people own some kind of portable digital device – whether it be a laptop, smartphone or tablet. The evolution of technology has benefited the world in many ways, and at the same time, is responsible for much of the mental disturbances due to the excessive stimuli they release. Most times, our sensory functions are required to work overtime to process much of the visual and audio stimuli originating from digital devices. Subsequently our minds convert these sensory imprints into memories and don’t hesitate to play them back when a moment of silence appears.
Access to handheld digital devices means that we never need to sit alone with our thoughts, or just gaze out of the window and be fully present. There is always something occupying our thoughts – our minds never really switch off. Our minds never want to.
Even without advanced technology, our minds would rather be occupied with thoughts than be completely in the present. Moreover, they were not required to deal with these frequent surges of sensory
stimuli previously; therefore, it may have been easier to quieten the mind with a round of breathing and concentration in times gone by.
This alone is the reason why Savasana is so hard for many students now. Their minds are so pre-occupied with thoughts originating from technological devices – whether it be a funny TikTok video or selfies of a recent holiday in Hawaii.
Buddhists refer to a mind with sporadic, bouncing thoughts as the monkey mind. In the 21st century, monkey minds are out of control.
Yoga teachers instruct their students during Savasana to perform slow, deep rhythmic breathing while keeping the body entirely still. In time, the expectation is that the aspirant will be able to quieten the mind and slip into a deep meditative state.
In the modern digital age, this is difficult and requires an important pre-requisite step. Any serious yoga student should take steps to moderate time spent on their phones, laptops and tablets and try not to use any at least one hour before a yoga class. Using them for business and work purposes is acceptable of course and, in most cases, unavoidable. Scrolling on Facebook feeds or watching a stream of YouTube videos before a yoga class might not be such a good idea.
A sensory detox, right before a yoga class will make it easier to concentrate during Savasana. The relaxation attained from Savasana will flow through the subsequent asanas and remain for the duration of the class.