We’ve been covering ways that yoga can help us with relieving stress each week during December. We started the month by focusing on hip and shoulder openers, followed by twists last week. This week marks the last week I’ll be teaching this month, due to the holidays. As I mentioned in my first blog this month, there are SO many ways yoga helps with relieving stress, so I pondered about what this week’s focus should be. I finally settled on Savasana (also referred to as “Final Relaxation” or “Corpse Pose”).
In my experience, all the last minute preparations that need to be taken care of can be overwhelming in a variety of ways, and sometimes, we just need to take a moment to be still. To just stop, breathe, and focus. Enter Savasana.
Savasana is a restorative pose that works on our autonomic nervous system (ANS). The function of the ANS is to control the various physiological changes that are initiated to enable “fight or flight” when we encounter any sort of stress, whether it be emotional or physical stress. Savasana is known to provide the following benefits:
- Removes physical and mental fatigue
- Relaxes and soothes the parasympathetic nervous system, which is part of the ANS
- Helps with high blood pressure and relieving stress-related headaches
- Helps regulate breathing
- Helps regulate sleep
In order for Savasana to help in times of stress, it is best to practice it daily for at least 5 minutes. However, if you can devote 10-15 minutes of your time in this pose, even better!
To perform the traditional version of Savasana, simply lie flat on your back with your arms beside you, palms facing up. Keep in mind the following things to get the most out of this pose:
- Place a pillow under the knees if you have lower back problems.
- Make sure you are warm. Use a blanket, or add clothing, as needed.
- Covering the eyes with a washcloth or eye pillow can help to facilitate deep relaxation.
- Allow your breathing to be soft, quiet and gentle…don’t force it.
- Try to direct your passive breath into the body/mind, especially into the areas where you feel tense or tight.
- Focus on releasing tension in the jaw, brow and facial muscles.
- Pay particular attention to relaxing the shoulders and arms, allowing them to “be heavy” and supported by the floor
- Try to release tension in the lower back by relaxing the legs and the feet
Have a safe and happy holiday season! I look forward to seeing you in the new year!