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Despite its many benefits for body and mind, more than a few practitioners still view Savasana (Corpse Pose) as an afterthought, the yogic equivalent of the cool-down in an aerobic workout—ideal if you have time but not essential. Also, boring. But this final resting pose has a very important purpose in your practice. After using active asanas to stretch, open, and release any tension that might have been in your body, Savasana allows you to integrate the physical practice you just completed.
The key: to find a comfortable, neutral position as you lie on your mat. Lengthen from your neck through your tailbone, open across your chest, and move your shoulder blades away from your spine. Let gravity do the rest. Allow your body to feel heavy; let go and sink into the mat.
Notice your thoughts without getting attached to them. Feel sensations in your body without having to do anything about them. Over time, your mind will start to settle, your nervous system will quiet down, and you may even drop into a meditative state during Savasana. Take this time to recalibrate and reset. Your body—and mind—deserve it.
Corpse Pose basics
Sanskrit: Savasana (shuh-VAHS-ah-nah)
Pose type: Supine
Target area: Full Body
Why we love it: “So many people say they look forward to Savasana because it signals that yoga class is finally over. But it’s a difficult pose for some people. If you’re agitated, upset, or have attention deficit challenges, lying still can be a real struggle. I’ve found that people who have experienced trauma may feel too exposed in this ‘spread eagle’ position. Turning down lights and having people close their eyes can also be triggering. You wouldn’t think there would be a need to modify this seemingly simple pose, but when I’m teaching, I offer a lot of options—knees up, hands on your belly, eyes partially open, lights on, even doing it stomach down—whatever will make people feel more like they can relax and absorb the benefits.
Personally, I had one of the most profound experiences while lying in Savasana. I had lain there long enough to be in a completely relaxed but lucid state. (One of the few times I hadn’t drifted off to sleep!) I felt, rather than heard, a voice: ‘Everything you need will come.’ I didn’t move, but suddenly I was really aware that I was receiving an important message. It was incredibly comforting and has given me so much confidence over the years. Whenever my path seems dark or tangled, I remember the promise that came to me in Savasana.” —Tamara Jeffries, Yoga Journal Senior Editor
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Savasana calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. It also relaxes the body, reduces headache, fatigue, and insomnia, and helps to lower blood pressure.
Corpse Pose: Step-by-step instructions
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Lean back onto your forearms.
- As you inhale, slowly extend your legs with your feet apart and toes turned out equally.
- Narrow the front of your pelvis and soften (but don’t flatten) your lower back. Lift your pelvis off the floor, slightly tuck your tailbone. (You may use your hand to sweep your buttocks away from your lower back. ) Lower your pelvis.
- With your hands, lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck creating length. If it’s more comfortable, support your head and neck with a folded blanket. Make sure your shoulders are down and away from your ears.
- Reach your arms toward the ceiling, perpendicular to the floor. Rock slightly from side to side and broaden the back ribs and the shoulder blades away from the spine. Then release your arms to the floor, angled evenly away from the sides of the body.
- Turn your arms outward and extend them toward to bottom of the mat. Rest the backs of your hands on the floor. Make sure your shoulder blades rest evenly on the floor.
- Soften your mouth and tongue, and the skin around your nose, ears, and forehead. Let your eyes sink to the back of your head, then turn them downward to gaze toward your heart.
- Stay in this pose for at least 5 minutes.
- To exit, exhale and gentle roll onto one side. Take 2 or 3 breaths. With another exhale, press your hands against the floor and lift your torso, bringing your head slowly after.
- To help relax the eyes, gently place a soft cloth or eye pillow over your eyes to block out the light and relax the pupils.
- To bring ease to your abdomen, place a block, a pillow, or a few folded blankets horizontally across your lower abdomen.
- To support your neck, place a folded blanket or cushion under your neck and head until your forehead is slightly higher than your chin.
- To reduce tension in the lower back, place a rolled-up blanket or cushion beneath your knees.
Variation: Corpse Pose with knee support
For low back, hip, and knee comfort, put a bolster, rolled blanket, or rolled yoga mat under your knees.
Preparatory and counter poses
Any poses you practiced prior to Savasana serve as your preparatory poses. Corpse Pose is the culmination of your practice, so there are no counter poses afterward. However, you can follow Savasana with Sukhasana (Easy Pose) for quiet meditation.