Our daily life consists of taking in and processing a ton of sensory input (aka consuming) and also getting things done (producing). Savasana is the limital space where you are not consuming nor producing anything. Another way to say it is making the shift from achieving to receiving. From doing to being. No input, no output. Fully present with what is, letting go and resting fully. This is savasana. Translated to mean “corpse” pose, it is full surrender.
It is a time to hover in a space of being open to the sensory input from the body, something that we usually ignore. When opening yourself up to the sensory side, do so with kindness and curiosity. The brain waves between a reclined restorative savasana and a seated meditation are the same. The difference is that you use props to support the body, inviting both comfort and ease.
After a savasana session, you may feel more creativity, have clarity and you may even feel more energetic afterwards.
From my training with Judith Hanson Laster, there are many variations of savasana with different props like rolled blankets or even sandbags. But there is one that is considered to be the ultimate Restorative Savasana setup. According to JHL, for it to be a savasana, the heart needs to be level with the head. The body is then placed in a state of flexion (example is bending your knee is flexion). This helps to “trick” the nervous system to allow a deeper restful state. Dialing up the rest/digest/recover part of the nervous system called the parasympathetic.
Components of a Restorative Pose
Stillness = We put the body in a physical state of flexion of the joints, symmetry left to right and full comfort. This allows the body to rest and be still.
Warm = Even if your room is at a comfortable temperature, your body temp will decrease as you relax.
Quiet = Closing your door, telling the other folks in your life that you are taking 20 minutes to yourself
Dark = Closing shades, turning off lights, using an eye cover.
Benefits (listed from Judith Hanson Lasater’s book Restore and Rebalance)
- Creates environment to allow for deep relaxation
- Lowers blood pressure
- Effectively slows the heart rate and respiratory rate
What do you need? At the minimum, head and neck support with a couple of towels or blankets. Then it is adding in the torso and leg support and any finishing touches like eye covering for darkness and wrist support. Are bolsters required? Nope, they are nice to have, but not necessary. You can roll up blankets to make a similar effect. Even a foam roller is a good alternate.
How to do this setup? I created Restorative setup videos which you can rent for free to review the setup. These make seem like a TON of details just to relax! But it matters to the nervous system. I divided the videos into 3 parts, use whatever props you have around.
- Savasana Head & Neck Support (Part 1 of 3)
- Savasana Torso & Legs Support (Part 2 of 3)
- Savasana Final Touches (Part 3 of 3)
How long? The way to experience this pose is to set it up in silence and then enjoy it for 20 minutes. You can set a timer on your cell phone. Making sure to get out of the pose SLOWLY!
Want a guided video? I have a video that you can rent that I guide you into gentle movements, a mudra and simply savasana for 20 minutes = Simply Savasana
The most important part is to realize conscious resting is never a waste of time. It is not a luxury. Resting is a necessity. Ease is already within us. Restorative yoga is about creating the environment in order to receive a full rest. All of our stress is forgetting our natural state of ease, we lose touch with it. Another way to say it is we are not learning how to relax, we are remembering it. One of the yoga Sutras chapter 2 verse 46 speaks of this ease. That the yoga pose itself is abiding in ease, stillness.
Sthira-sukham asanam “Abiding in ease is asana”Sutra 2.46