Corpse Pose - Shavasana

Shavasana literally means "corpse pose". The goal of this asana is to let go of everything as if you were dead. Through conscious relaxation and awareness, it makes you sensitive to the tension in your mind and body and release.

It is considered by some, the most important yogasana. And even though it appears extraordinarily simple, once you actually get into it you’ll come to realize how easy or difficult it actually is.

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Some students have trouble maintaining the pose for more than a few minutes. While some get irritated within the first few seconds of lying still. Then there are others who just sink into it right from day one. The important thing is not to compare yourself with others for the level and amount of relaxation you achieve depends on the state of your mind and body when you start practicing Yoga. The results vary from individual to individual.

The First Step is to relax in the right posture on the floor. The arms and legs should be slumped lifelessly on the sides, arms spread out from the sides of your body, palms facing upwards, legs about a foot and a half apart. Your eyes should remain shut throughout the exercise. The breath varies from deep to slow and smooth.

You normally begin the exercise by lying down on your back and taking a few deep breaths. Concentrate on the rise and fall of your abdomen. Automatically you will notice all other sounds and thoughts starting to drift away and dissolve in the distance. Well, not immediately, perhaps, but over a period of time.

The Second Step is to actually relax the whole body-mind syndrome. This includes the three bodies, tri shariras, the five sheaths, pancha koshas and finally the conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious mind.

You start by giving autosuggestions to yourself as follows:

  • Now I am relaxing.
  • My whole body is relaxing.
  • My mind is relaxing.
  • My heart is relaxing.

Between each autosuggestion take one or two breaths and let the instruction sink in. Then:

  • My gross body is relaxing.
  • My subtle body is relaxing.
  • My causal body is relaxing.

Again take one or two breaths and let the instruction sink in. Then:

  • My Annamaya Kosha is relaxing.
  • My Pranamaya Kosha is relaxing.
  • My Manomaya Kosha is relaxing.
  • My Vijnanamaya Kosha is relaxing.
  • My Anandamaya Kosha is relaxing.

Again take one or two breaths and let the instruction sink in. Then:

  • My conscious mind is relaxing.

  • My sub-conscious mind is relaxing.
  • My unconscious mind is relaxing.

Again take one or two breaths and let the instruction sink in. Then:

The Third Step is to relax the whole body part by part. In this stage each and every part of the body from the toes to the head is given a separate autosuggestion that it is relaxing. You start by saying: My toes are relaxing; my toes are totally and completely relaxed.

This way you move your awareness upwards covering each and every part of the body feeling and letting them release and relax, until you reach the tip of the head. Slowly move the autosuggestions up the body to the ankles, legs, hips, torso, back (lower, middle & upper), arms (fingers, palms, wrists, forearms, elbows), shoulders, neck, throat, facial muscles and head. Make yourself aware of each part and gently order it to relax.

Once the parts of the body are relaxed, you move your awareness to your internal organs, and let them relax. Feel your lungs breathe as effortlessly as possible. Likewise, feel your heart beat as slowly and gently. Then suggest your stomach, liver, kidneys, etc., relax. Try to cover as many organs as you can. Then let your brain and nervous system release let go and relax.

Whenever you find your mind straying or your body itching or something disturbing you, stop, take a few deep breaths and take your mind to the region of you abdomen. Feel the gentle heave, the rise and fall of your abdomen and see how the disturbances fade away. Well, not immediately, perhaps, but with time and patience and consistency, you will achieve the desired result. Thousands, if not millions have reported having achieved this.

Next you make your mind and heart (the emotional centre of the being) relax.

The Final Stage is to have a feeling of soft, weightlessness. Like lifting up and floating in the floor air. This is the stage in which to watch out for remaining spots of tension and get them to relax.

Ideally, you should lie down and rest for 15 minutes to 30 minutes in Complete Shavasana, after your final asana in the series. This is done with a view to relax the muscles that were tensed up, flexed and contracted and now let the energy that was created and released in process flow freely throughout your system. This generates nourishment and healing at a deep level. But this exercise need not be restricted to Yoga sessions alone. It can be done whenever you feel tired, tense and uptight, particularly at the end of a harried work-day, at home or at the office, on site, in a factory or wherever. Just take time out to relax. It helps releases stress and tension from the mind and body.

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