Savasana & The Art of Letting Go

Over the years I’ve noticed the one yoga pose students are most likely to walk out on.

It’s the one pose the original yogis must have seen so much value in, that it’s a part of every single practice. In fact, it’s where every practice ends.

Savasana literally translated means “corpse” pose, or pose of the dying man.

And while Savasana may be the simplest asana in yoga, for many it is the most challenging. Because here we are asked to do nothing. Here, it’s about simply being.

It’s about learning, and practicing, the art of surrendering and letting go.

Some teachers miss this opportunity, they themselves not fully understanding the power of Savasana. So they keep this final resting pose very brief, glossing over its power.

Or maybe they aren’t aware of it themselves, or simply aren’t sure how to hold the space for others to practice surrendering and letting go. That means that they have to be comfortable with this concept themselves.

Newer students to yoga sometimes think the practice has already ended when we start making our way into Savasana, and often will start rolling up their mats to head for the door.

A good yoga teacher will educate them on the fact that this may be the most important part of their whole practice, and encourage them to give it a try.

So many of us have trouble with surrendering and letting go.

I remember one gentleman in particular who made it all the way through his first gentle yoga class with me. As I always do, I talked the students into a progressive relaxation, inviting them to start with their toes as I worked them all the way through their bodies, noticing and releasing any tension they found.

Still, after about a full 8 minutes of this, he lay there tight as a board—legs together, arms rigid by his sides, facial muscles taught. Even after all of that yoga, deep breathing and guided relaxation, that was his most relaxed possible state.

I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like for him to be in his body throughout the day with that kind of tension. And if that is the level of tension he was experiencing in his body, what kind of tension was present in his mind?

Not only is Savasana our opportunity to practice, even if just for a few moments, surrendering control. We tend to think we have control over more than we think we do. So when we give ourselves permission to let go, we start feeling lighter and freer.

Savasana is also a wonderful opportunity to integrate all of the benefits of our practice, which go so far beyond a mere physical level.

We start by noticing the space that we have opened up in our bodies with our practice, and as we let go more and more, we can feel ourselves expanding.

Simultaneously we get to notice the strength we have cultivated in our bodies which, energetically, often translates into courage, confidence, and endurance.

As we surrender to the Earth below, we feel ourselves getting grounded, rooted, connected, stable…

And at the same time, as we open our hearts and minds to the sky above, we feel ourselves getting lighter and freer…all at the same time.

The more deeply we integrate that into our experience, the more likely we are to take that off of the mat and into our lives.

And that’s when we truly start to live our yoga.

The next time you are in Savasana, remind yourself that this may be the most valuable asana of your whole practice.

Allow yourself to spread out and take up some space, letting your legs and feet be as wide apart as your mat, with your feet falling out to the sides as you relax all the way up into your hips. If you need it, put a pillow or bolster under your knees to support your lower back.

Let your arms roll out by your sides, palms facing up in a very open, receptive gesture and you invite Life in. Or place your hand face-down for a more grounding experience.

Tuck your shoulder blades up under your ribcage to support your heart, simultaneously creating lots of space between your shoulders and your ears.

Close your eyes, and relax everything, including your breathing. Let your breathing be natural, organic, effortless…

As if the breath is breathing you.

Feel yourself deeply absorbing the benefits of your practice. Enjoy how it feels to let go and surrender, even if for just a few moments.

Give yourself over to the experience, holding nothing back.

And notice how you feel.

Question of the day: What has been your experience with Savasana? Do you use it as an opportunity to surrender and let go, or are you typically waiting for it to end? How long does your yoga teacher keep you in Savasana? Considering what I've mentioned here, is it long enough?

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