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Corpse Pose (Savasana): Benefits, Tips, Modifications

Corpse Pose (Savasana): Benefits, Tips, Modifications

Reading Time: 5 minutes


DATE: 2024-05-14

On the surface, corpse pose is much simpler and easier than any other asana. It only involves laying on your back, right? In reality, it’s much more than this if you want to get the most out of this restorative pose.

What experienced practitioners know is that corpse pose is more complicated and difficult than it looks. This is because most of us struggle to be still in both body and mind. Learn to master corpse pose, and you will have a handy tool for deep and effective relaxation. 

What is Corse Pose? 

The Sanskrit name for corpse pose is savasana. Sava means corpse, which might seem a little off-putting, but in reality, this pose is great for your mental and physical well-being. It involves lying on your back to quiet the body and mind. 

If you have ever taken a yoga class, you have probably done corpse pose. It is a restorative and deeply relaxing pose often used at the end of an asana series. It’s easy to do corpse pose, but it’s challenging to do it well. 

What Are the Benefits of Corpse Pose? 

Many people treat corpse pose as an afterthought or simply as the cool down that signals the end of the yoga session. Corpse pose is so much more than a simple end point. It is a deeply relaxing yoga pose and provides many benefits. 

Relax the Mind and Body

One of the most important and obvious benefits of this asana is that it is relaxing. If you do it right, it will activate your parasympathetic nervous system (your relaxation response) and lower activity in the sympathetic nervous system (your fight-or-flight stress response). Corpse pose has a powerful calming effect on the mind and relaxing effect on the body. 

Manage Stress

The relaxing and calming effect of corpse pose makes it an ideal asana for managing stress. When done correctly, corpse pose is a type of mindfulness meditation, a proven strategy for reducing stress. By resting the body and focusing the mind on sensations occurring in the moment, you can reduce your stress levels. 

These grounding yoga poses help you manage stress.

Rest Without Sleeping

Corpse pose is restful and rejuvenating. Especially when done at the end of a class or your own practice, this pose should leave you feeling rested. The effect is usually more rejuvenating than a nap, which can leave you feeling groggy or disoriented. 

Try these additional restorative yoga poses to rest and feel rejuvenated. 

Savasana Benefits Physical Health 

The deep relaxation and stress relief you can experience during corpse pose is good for your mind and your body. It can lower your blood pressure, reduce your heart rate, slow your respiration, and decrease tension in your muscles. 

How to Do Corpse Pose

Corpse pose looks simple, and it is. But it requires more effort than just lying on your back if you really want to get all the benefits of this rejuvenating yoga posture. 

  • Sitting on your mat with knees bent, lean back onto your forearms. 

  • Inhale and extend your legs. Keep your legs comfortably apart and let your feet fall naturally to the sides. 

  • Lie back, resting your head on the mat and closing your eyes. 

  • Rest your arms to the sides of your body, palms up. 

  • Focus your attention on relaxing every part of your body. Scan your body from the top of your head to your toes. 

  • Notice as each part of your body feels relaxed and heavier, like you are sinking into the mat or the floor. 

  • Let your mind clear. Focus on your breath and return to it each time your mind wanders. 

  • Spend at least five minutes in the pose before gently moving your extremities. 

  • When you’re ready, gently roll onto your right side before sitting.

  • Sit with your eyes closed for a few breaths before opening them and slowly standing.  

Being able to fully relax the body and focus the mind on present sensations takes practice. Don’t be frustrated if you cannot hold this pose for very long. Continue to do it after every yoga practice, and your ability to rest and restore will improve. The more you practice it, the greater the benefits you’ll get. 

Tips for Getting the Most out of Corpse Pose

Anyone can lie down at the end of a yoga class with their eyes closed. Benefitting from corpse pose requires that you do more than this. Here are some tips to help you get the most benefit from this powerful pose: 

  • Only do corpse pose after doing a sequence of other asanas. They help open, stretch, and release tension in muscles, joints, and connective tissues so your body can truly relax in corpse pose. 

  • If you continue to struggle with your mind wandering into intrusive thoughts, use this mindfulness technique: note the thoughts, let them go, and then return to focusing on the breath. 

  • Another strategy for controlling intrusive thoughts and clearing the mind is to continue doing a body scan, repeatedly if necessary. Pay attention to sensations in each part of your body, letting them relax and sink down toward the floor as you do so. 

  • If you get too cold while doing corpse pose, and this distracts you, use a blanket or towel. A blanket can also help you cultivate the relaxing sensation of being heavy and sinking into the earth. 

  • Use an eye mask or a folded towel over your eyes if you find any light in the room distracting. 

  • Don’t be surprised if you initially fall asleep during corpse pose. If this continues to be an issue, consider whether or not you get enough restful sleep at night. You only get the most benefits from savasana when you remain conscious. 

Modifications for Corpse Pose

It might seem like modifications are not necessary for this simple pose. Lying meditatively on your back is not as easy as it looks. Try these modifications for various issues: 

  • Back Pain. Lying flat can trigger back pain. If your back feels uncomfortable in corpse pose, bend your knees a little and place a bolster or folded blanket under them. Alternatively, rest your lower legs on a chair. 

  • Neck Pain. If you have neck pain in this pose, put a folded towel under your neck to support it. 

  • Head Pain. Resting your head on the floor, even with a yoga mat, can be uncomfortable and distracting. Use a towel for cushioning if necessary. 

  • Pregnancy. If you are pregnant, use a bolster or folded towel to elevate their head and chest. If lying on your back is still uncomfortable, lie on your side. 

In general, whatever you need to do to make this pose more comfortable and relaxing, do it. Distracting discomfort will prevent you from getting the most out of it.

The most important thing to remember about corpse pose is that you shouldn’t skip it. There are so many benefits to it. Even if you’re busy, resist the urge to rush out of class or a practice without doing this vital yoga pose. 

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The ISSA’s Yoga Alliance-approved 200-hour yoga teacher training program is a great way to learn about yoga and all its poses in more depth. You can use the course to become an instructor or simply to further your own personal practice. 

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  1. Mindfulness meditation: A research-proven way to reduce stress. (2019, October 30). American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/topics/mindfulness/meditation

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