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The Purpose of Corpse Pose

What is the purpose of Corpse Pose and the best way to approach it?

—Andrea Vogel, Chicago

Richard Rosen's reply:

In Corpse Pose, we symbolically "die" to our old ways of thinking and doing. The normally perceived boundaries of body image dissolve, and we enter a state of blissful neutrality. In reply to the question "What does Corpse Pose feel like?" one of my teachers always said "Nothing."

To practice Savasana, start by aligning the body. Make sure that your two sides are resting evenly on the floor and that your ears are equidistant from your shoulders. Physically relax the muscles and bones. Imagine that the mass of your body is sinking down into the floor, then spreading out like a puddle of oil. Next calm the senses. Soften the root of your tongue. Cradle your eyes in their sockets and turn them down to gaze at the heart. Release the inner ears to the back of the skull (yet keep them alert to the sound of the breath). Smooth the skin at the bridge of the nose and melt it toward your temples.

Finally, surrender any and all psychological effort (or at least as much as you can). Even as you lie still on the floor, you'll discover that you're still trying, wondering what to "do" in this posture. Drop your brain to the back of the skull. Remember the words of the great sage Abhinavagupta: "Abandon nothing. Take up nothing. Rest, abide in yourself, just as you are."

Richard Rosen, who teaches in Oakland and Berkeley, California, has been writing for Yoga Journal since the 1970s.

For more by Richard Rosen, visit our Video Reviews.

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Reader Comments

Carol

I am looking for the correct alignment for "reverse" shavasana i.e., face down. I have heard of it, but never seen it.

Kieranee

Thank you. I'm always worried about my alignment when I'm trying to do the corpse pose and I end up being all tense and not be able to get the restful benefits.

Melly

this article was very helpful...I've always been worried that I've been 'doing it wrong' by just lying there, but now I know there's much more to this pose than simply lying down! It sounds very beautiful and restful the way it's explained here.

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