A yoga class always ends in shavasana or corpse pose. The main reason for that is to practice systematic relaxation at the end of a yoga asana/pose session. The body uses all our senses to gather information of our world and the way we perceive our world all the time. Yoga helps us to bring our awareness to a deeper level, but to achieve this we need to practice relaxing our senses. This is what shavasana can help us achieve.
So, what is shavasana? It is the posture in which we learn to rest our senses.
How do we practice shavasana you may ask? A practice ideally should be between 10-15 minutes as it takes the body about 6 minutes for the effects of focused breathing into the lower parts of the lungs to take effect on the parasympathetic nervous system which is the calming, ‘rest and digest’ state.
- Rest the body on the floor, arms slightly away from the body and feet apart
- Allow the breath to deepen into the lower parts of the lungs
- Feel the movement of the breath in the whole body
- Allow the mind to become aware of the breath
- Become aware of your own presence
So, what are the benefits of yoga relaxation? In savasana the heart is at the same as the rest of the body which makes its work easier as the gravity is less, allowing the cardiovascular system to rest. The gravitational pull on the muscles and bones is less too. In yoga we often refer to the floor as Dr Floor for this very reason, using the gravity of the body on the floor to relax the posture and reduce strain on the spine. Breathing becomes easier as muscles in the ribcage is able to relax. As the breathing deepens, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, helping to quieten the mind, bringing us to the present moment rather than thinking about the past or the future. The breath also helps to cleanse and nourish the body. This requires patient practice and may take some time to fully achieve and feel the benefit.
Through this practice the full body and mind benefit and with it comes a calmer more relaxed state with the added benefit of a better nights rest too.