There’s no denying that these are trying times for all of us. The COVID-19 Pandemic (visit here for up-to-date information about COVID-19) has taken a firm grip on the entire world, and many of us are having to navigate unchartered territory, territory that may be causing us more stress and anxiety than we’re normally used to. We’re facing new experiences of social distancing and etiquette; many of us are still working from home; and to top it all off, we can’t go out into the world to do the things that keep us sane as freely as we could before.
You are not alone. This pandemic is difficult for all of us, and it’s certainly testing the planet’s mental wellbeing.
When it comes to yoga, your daily practice has never been so important. A Vinyasa routine will keep you flexible and limber, and a daily Pranayama practice will help you build a robust mindset.
When it comes to the end of your practice, we recommend putting a few extra minutes aside and spending them in Shavasana. Here’s why.
Shavasana pose: a quick recap
Shavasana (otherwise known as corpse pose) is traditionally performed at the end of a yoga routine to help relax the mind and body. For those unfamiliar with this pose who might be new to yoga, here’s a quick how-to guide for the Shavasana pose.
It’s important that you lie in a neutral position during Shavasana. This pose is about total relaxation, and it’s crucial to find a comfortable and natural position that your body falls in to.
Slowly make your way into a lying position on your mat, spread your arms out (palms up) and widen your feet. You can rock gently side to side to settle into this position, making sure to breathe deep as you do so. Remember to tuck your chin and lower your lower back to the floor, trying not to arch upwards. Breathe…
The benefits of Shavasana pose
There are countless benefits to lying still for extended periods of time. In today’s noisy and distracted world, it’s vital to spend a dedicated portion of your day working on calming your mind, reducing your anxiety and breathing deeply. Everything else is second to this fundamental. Here are some of the benefits of Shavasana:
1. Breathing stimulates your nervous system and improves your digestion
We all breathe, but we don’t all consciously breathe. Putting aside some time in your day to breathe deep and breathe slow will help heal your nervous system, and it’ll improve your gut health, too. Conscious breathing helps air pass through your intestines, which promotes healthy digestion. It also helps relax your muscles and reduces nervous system inflammation that may be present due to the stress of the day.
2. Shavasana will reduce your anxiety
Corpse pose is less about pushing the physical body, and more about trying to work on meditative practices that will help you find a sense of present mindedness. And it’s in this present mindedness that you’ll find a feeling of calm overcome you.
Anxiety stems from a place of worry about the future, and Shavasana is an essential daily practice if you’re looking to reduce your anxious thoughts and feelings.
3. Learning to turn off will turn you on
Burnout is a real thing, and too much of one thing will cause you to be unproductive and feel sluggish. Learning the art of active rest, then, will help you become more focused at work, more conscious in your relationships and happier and healthier overall.
4. Shavasana improves your positive energy
A daily Shavasana practice will help you reduce your negative thoughts, too. By consciously choosing to focus on the present and learning how to remove all external pressures, you’ll build up a strong resilience to negativity and will likely radiate a positivity that not only makes you feel great about life, but that will lift up those around you, too.
5. Reduce physical ailments, too
Oxidising your body isn’t just beneficial to your mental wellbeing, it helps your physical being, too. Deep breathing in Shavasana will help you fight off muscle tension and stress, it’ll repair damaged tissue, and more generally, it’ll help reduce physical pain and improve the function of your body on a day-to-day basis.
Shavasana isn’t as easy as it looks…
Lying down on your yoga mat at the end of practice might seem like an easy thing to do, but you’ll be surprised at how difficult it is to do for an extended period of time. Slowing down and learning to calm the mind is a challenging task, and it requires great mental strength and a high level of consciousness.
Shavasana is known as the hardest of all the asanas. Unlike a yoga sequence, a successful Shavasana requires deep relaxation, and this cannot happen on command. A bad day, a slight distraction or an over-active mindset might throw your Shavasana off and reduce your chances of achieving a deep sense of calm.
Much like sleep, then, to achieve Shavasana, you must give yourself a runway. The last third of your yoga practice should be aimed at working down into this pose. Rather than turning up the intensity or putting your body through the physical elements, you should be shifting through the gears and slowing down your movements until you reach a place of stillness that you can easily enter in to.
Stillness, the ruler of movement
As Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, says:
‘Stillness, the ruler of movement.’
Yoga is as much about movement as it is about stillness. During today’s testing Pandemic, stillness has never been so important, and while staying at home might make you feel angsty and stressed, we must acknowledge the opportunity we have, an opportunity to slow down and take stock, to find a sense of calm in an over-stimulated world, and to consciously be and love one another.
A daily Shavasana practice will help you get through this self-isolation, and both your mind and body will be better for it for a long time to come.