Favorite Pose Friday: Savasana (7 variations)

Savasana quote

Aaah, the pose of all poses, Savasana.  It’s truly perfect for any occasion, and your Savasana can be whatever you want it to be.  Also know as ‘corpse pose’ (not a fan of that nomenclature), it’s the final resting pose we come into at the end of our yoga practice, and there’s more to it than lying flat on your back.

For many people, lying still – even for five minutes, is very difficult.  So, it’s important to find the perfect position for you, so you’re not thinking about discomfort in the body; allowing you to let go.

Traditionally, we’re taught to lie flat on our backs with our arms by our sides palms face up to receive our practice and allow our nervous system to settle.  And this is a wonderful way to teach it, and I often cue students to take Savasana this way.  However, most of the time in my classes, I’ll cue students to make their way into whatever version of the pose allows them to surrender.

Every body is different.  We all have our own issues or pain points (physically and emotionally).  For someone with a breathing disorder (like me) lying flat on my back makes it difficult to breathe.  If you’re late in your pregnancy (third trimester especially), you should avoid lying flat on your back for an extended period of time in order to avoid uterine pressure on the vena cava vein (which carries blood back to the heart for oxygen from your legs and feet).  Side sleeping is generally recommended in this trimester as a result.

If you have low back pain, it helps to have a bolster or blankets under your knees during Savasana.  So, knowing that everyone may have different needs physically so that they can let go emotionally, here are 7 different variations of our favorite final resting pose.  I love the graphic images courtesy of Nina at Yoga for Healthy Aging blog.

The first variation involves adding a folded blanket to support your head.  This is great if you have tight shoulders or chest, or just like to have a little cushion under your coconut. Be sure the support under your head is firm (not soft) and that your shoulders are touching the ground (not the support). Ideally in Savasana, your chin should be pointing slighting down toward your chest (not tipping back away from it).

Savasana with Head Support

Savasana with Head Support

This second variation (I mentioned above) provides support behind your knees, and it’s great if  you have lower back problems or find it more comfortable to rest your back flatter on the mat. You can use a bolster (as shown below) or a couple of folded blankets.

Savasana with Knee Support

Savasana with Knee Support

The third variation of Savasana is great for a home practice when you have access to a chair to support your calves.  This too provides relief for low back pain, and because it’s an inversion, it improves circulation and helps you relax.  Place a blanket or two on the chair so you can be comfortable, and you may choose to make a T-shape out of a couple other blankets for a nice supported chest opener, and head cushion.
Savasana with Chair Support

Savasana with Chair Support

The fourth and fifth variations are restorative versions of Savasana, that use blankets and bolsters to support your torso and head. One version uses a bolster under your torso, and the other a stack of two folded blankets. These versions can help open the chest and lungs for better breathing and they just feel amazing.   Before lying back onto the bolster, make sure you’re seated on the floor with the edge of the bolster at your low back.  You may need to play with the position a bit if the curve in your back is too much.

Restorative Savasana (Bolster Supporting Torso)

Restorative Savasana (Bolster Supporting Torso)

Restorative Savasana (Blankets Supporting Torso)

Restorative Savasana (Blankets Supporting Torso)

The sixth version of Savasana is my favorite.  Whether I start there or not, I usually end up here lying on my side.  This is great for when I’m having trouble breathing, and it’s also a good option for for pregnant women. It’s best if you can have support both under your head and between your legs.  If you can have an extra blanket or pillow to hug, even better.

Side-Lying Savasana

Side-Lying Savasana

The  last version is Crocodile pose (Makrasana) is great if you tend to feel anxious or vulnerable lying on your back and feel more comfortable if your front body is protected. If this pose is hard on your lower back, you can also grab a bolster and come into supported child’s pose.

Crocodile Pose (Makrasana)

Crocodile Pose (Makrasana)

Whether or not you find Savasana easeful, you may want to try one of these variations to see how your body responds and if you’re allowed to surrender further into final relaxation.

And if none of these work, make your own variation.  Do what’s right for you so that you can give yourself at least 5 minutes to receive your practice and let go of what doesn’t serve you.

Do you have a version of Savasana that you’d like to share?  Let me know here!


– Your Charmed Yogi

(Featured image: Quizio)

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6 thoughts on “Favorite Pose Friday: Savasana (7 variations)

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