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The last pose in every yoga class, Corpse Pose is well-deserved rest after a physically intense Ashtanga class or the ultimate relaxation after a calming Yin class. Some yogis may think that Savasana is impossible to get wrong and that instructions are unnecessary, but lying completely still for several minutes can be challenging!
Some yogis may get restless and choose to skip this pose altogether, but Savasana is essential to every yoga practice, and everything that you practice before this pose leads up to this moment of physical and mental relaxation.
Benefits of Corpse Pose
The benefits of Corpse pose are endless and translate both on and off of your yoga mat. This posture is a beautiful moment in your practice to turn inward, to completely relax, and to connect to your heart and your Self.
Although it might feel challenging to lay still for a few minutes after a sweaty practice, try to stay for the whole duration of your Savasana. With practice, Corpse pose will become easier, and a welcomed end to your practice. Some benefits of this pose include:
- Less muscle tension
- Decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolic rate
- Better sleep
- A calmer and relaxed sense of being
- Improved digestive system
- Increased concentration, patience, and energy
- Less Anxiety
Warming Up for Corpse Pose
Think of your entire yoga practice as a warm-up to Corpse Pose! Every posture that you practice and every moment before your Corpse pose is preparing both your body and your mind for those few moments of relaxation at the end of your practice.
When you first step on your mat, your body and your mind may be holding tension and it may be challenging to be completely relaxed. The postures in your yoga practice prep your mind and your body to enter this state of relaxation by:
- Relaxing your muscles
- Moving attention and awareness to your breath
- Allowing you to be more mindful and present
- Allowing you to let go of stress and other worries
How to Practice Corpse Pose
The great thing about Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is that you can practice it anytime! No specific warm up required :). Below is a step-by-step on how to practice it.
To practice Savasana:
- At the end of your practice, lay down completely on your mat. Traditionally, your head should face the front of the room and your feet should face the back of the room.
- Once you are on your back, take your feet out as wide as your mat, or even wider. Allow your feet and legs to fall open so that there is no tension keeping your legs together.
- Relax your arms alongside your body with your palms facing up toward the ceiling. Rest your arms slightly away from your body to keep your chest open and shoulders relaxed.
- If you notice that you are holding tension in any other part of your body, take a few wiggles or readjust so that your body is completely relaxed.
- Once you have released any residual tension, close your eyes. Relax your facial muscles, your jaw, and the space between your eyebrows.
- Feel your body completely supported by the ground beneath you and feel comfortable enough to completely relax.
- You can imagine your body melting into the ground, or you can do a quick scan from head to toe to feel every muscle and body part completely relax and soften.
- Once you are completely relaxed, let go. Enjoy the next few moments in Savasana.
- Your teacher may guide you out of Savasana, or may allow you to rest as long as you like.
- When you are ready to come out of the pose, gently wiggle your fingers and your toes to wake your body up.
- Deepen your breath, lift your arms up overhead, and take a long stretch.
- Bend both of your knees into your chest and roll over to one side. You can choose to stay for a few moments by using your arm as a pillow and staying curled up in an embryo position.
- Keep your eyes closed, and when you are ready, use your hands to slowly lift yourself up to a comfortable seat.
Corpse pose is all about surrendering to the moment and this is best done when your body is totally relaxed. Here are the most common misalignments in Corpse Pose and how you can fix them.
- Palms facing down: Keep your palms facing up during Savasana, in a physical gesture of receiving. Your palms facing up opens up your body and your heart, and puts you in a state of relaxation and receiving.
- Keeping legs together and keeping your arms too close to your body: Doing this causes you to hold tension in your body. The goal of Savasana is to completely relax the body, so let go of any muscular effort. Allow your legs and feet to fall open, and take your arms out slightly to the sides of your mat for a sense of openness and expansiveness.
- Holding tension in your body: When you relax in Savasana, be aware of where you may be holding muscular tension. It may be in your fingers, your jaw, or your forehead. Allow your entire body to be heavy and completely relaxed.
- Holding tension in your mind: It’s completely normal for your mind to wander during your practice, even during Savasana. If you start to hold tension in your mind in the form of thoughts or coming in, take yourself back to your body and your breath and see if you can allow your mind to relax with your body.
If you find it challenging to fully relax in Corpse pose, try one of these simple modifications below:
Use a blanket or bolster: If you suffer from lower back issues or pain, a great modification is to use a bolster or a rolled-up blanket underneath your knees. Allow your knees to bend and relax your legs completely.
Bend your knees: This is a nice modification if you have any lower back issues, as it releases tension in the lower back. Take your feet as wide as your mat and bring your feet flat on the floor. Gently knock the knees in together and relax.
Practice on your side: If you are pregnant, a nice modification is to practice Corpse pose on your side. You can hug a bolster or place it in between your legs for a little more support and comfort.
Tips for Beginners
- Don’t worry if you fall asleep: Some people call Savasana ‘the nap’. It’s not uncommon to hear a snore or two at the end of practice so there’s no need to be embarrassed if this happens to you! Corpse pose relaxes the entire body and mind, so it’s totally normal to doze off every once and a while.
- Don’t worry if your mind wanders: It’s perfectly normal that thoughts come and go. Instead of getting annoyed at yourself for having thoughts about dinner or work, allow yourself to witness them without judgment or attachment.
- Let go of your breath: There is no need to change or manipulate your breath during Corpse pose. Just let your breath come and go naturally, even if it feels shallow compared to your controlled breath during class.
- Be patient: If you find yourself getting frustrated with your mind wandering, or if you feel in a rush to jump off of your mat and into the shower, remember that poses get easier with time. Savasana is no different. While it may be challenging to stay still at first, with practice you may learn to love this final posture.
Variations in Corpse Pose
Try practicing these relaxing variations next time you are in your Corpse pose:
Use a wall: You can practice your final resting pose as an L-shape against the wall. Scoot your hips to a wall and lift your straight up thewall. Let them be supported by the wall and allow your upper body to completely relax.
Use a bolster or blanket: Place your bolster or rolled-up blanket under your knees to support your lower back. Allow your legs to relax and your knees to bend. You can also use a rolled-up blanket under your neck to support your neck if you need it.
Make it a heart opener: You can place a bolster, small pillow, or a block at your mid-back to open up your chest. Move slowly into this one, and use another block to support your head if you need it. Let your chest and heart soften as you relax.
Add a hip opener: Bend both of your knees and take the soles of your feet to touch. Depending on your flexibility and your comfort, you can take your feet either further away or closer to your body. Use blocks underneath each knee for more support if you would like, and let your hips soften into a diamond shape.
Try it on your belly: Lay on your belly and make a pillow with your hands by placing one hand on top of the other with your palms facing down. Rest your forehead on your hands, close your eyes, relax your shoulders, and relax.
If you struggle with a back injury, practice Savasana with a bolster or blanket underneath your knees. If you have a tight neck or neck injury, roll up a blanket and place it underneath the back of your neck for more support. Take care while practicing this pose if you have Gastric Reflux or stomach acidity, as it may cause discomfort in the esophagus.
Next time you end your yoga practice, remember not to skip Corpse pose. Relax, surrender, and enjoy the peace of the moment!