Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)


What is Shavasana (Corpse Pose)?

Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

Shavasana (or Mrtasana) is a beginner-friendly restorative yoga pose. Usually, this pose is performed at the end of every yoga routine to release any tension from the whole body.  

Yoga practitioners like to close their eyes and focus on a deep rhythmic breathing pattern in the corpse pose practice; this enables the mind, body, and soul to find balance and rejuvenates the overall flow of Prana in the nervous system. 

The name is derived from the Sanskrit term “the Sava,” which means "Corpse," and Asana, which means "Posture" or "Seat." 

Whereas, Mrtasana is also derived from the Sanskrit word Mrta, which means "death."

In the first chapter's verse 32 of Hatha Yoga Pradipika (HYP), the corpse pose is mentioned as a 'lying down on your back posture.' 

In this pose, the practitioner has only one objective: to mimic the dead body-like stillness while maintaining the consciousness of mind and breath. 

Sanskrit Name: शवासन                      Pronunciation: Shuh-Vah-Sana

Pose Type: Relax and Restorative     Also known as: Mrtasana, and Corpse Pose

Strengthens: None                             Stretches: None

Health Benefits of Shavasana

  • Soothes the nervous system. 

  • It helps to reduce high blood pressure. 

  • Increases the flow of Prana in the blood. 

  • Improves respiratory and cardiovascular functions. 

  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.

  • Reduced levels of stress and anxiety help in reducing insomnia. 

  • Reduces the effects of Vata Dosha (air element imbalance) on the body. 

When to Avoid Performing Shavasana 

  • Avoid during migraines. 

  • Avoid if lying down on the back is painful. 

  • Avoid if the mind is distracted or unable to focus. 

  • Avoid if faced with a recent spine/neck/back injury or surgery. 

  • Avoid if a regular focused breathing pattern is hard to maintain. 

How to do Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

Savasana is itself a resting pose, so there is generally no need for a warm-up or relaxation routine in order to prepare for the corpse pose. 

Even the steps are very straightforward and all it requires is mindful breath awareness. So, let’s dig straight into the steps of Shavasana. 

Part 1: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Shavasana

This pose might seem easy, but it’s one of the hardest poses to master because it involves the challenge of finding a deep state of relaxation—with the intention of letting go. This pose is one of the main reasons people practice yoga. 

The following is a list of corpse pose steps: 

Step 1- Sit on the mat in a comfortable position. Relax your neck, shoulders, and spine. 

Step 2- Lie on your back, rest your hands on your chest, and extend your legs forward. 

Step 3-  Relax every part of your body and feel yourself being supported by the mat beneath you.

Step 4-  Observe your body from head to toe, surrendering to the present moment. 

Step 5-  Notice all the places where your body makes contact with the mat and release any tension in your muscles. 

Step 6- With each exhalation, imagine your body getting heavier and sinking deeper into the mat. Release everything into the floor. 

Step 7- Stay in this position for as long as you feel comfortable or desired.

Step 8- To exit this corpse-like formation, exhale deeply and roll onto one side. 

Step 9- With a few deep breaths on the side, place one hand on the floor, press your hands and lift the torso from the yoga mat. 

Step 10- Slowly align your head straight. Sit in Padmasana for a few minutes and then release. 

Breath Awareness: 

Breath Awareness

Deep Relaxation Technique or DRT is a breathing pattern that works best for Corpse Pose. It is a slow way of scanning the whole body for remaining stress points and releasing them by attaining coordination between breath and body. 

Here is how you perform DRT while performing Shavasana:

  • Lying down in the Corpse position, completely relax and keep breathing normally for a few minutes here. 

  • As you connect to a normal breathing pattern, try not to put a lot of pressure on any exhale or inhale motion. 

  • Now, after 2-3 minutes, with an activated consciousness, scan your whole body from head to toe and try to release tension from each body part one by one. 

  • Bring your awareness to the nostrils and feel the coolness and warmth of each inhale and exhale. 

  • As you feel the breath, move your awareness from your toes to your waist and try to relax your whole lower body. 

  • Move your awareness from the abdomen to the chest. Inhale deep and fill your abdomen with air, then exhale twice the size of inhaling. 

  • Again, move your awareness up and open your chest for deeper breathing motion. 

  • After a few seconds, slowly move your awareness towards your brain and close your eyes. Here, you can chant 4 to 5 rounds of AUM for a complete release of mental stress. 

  • Now, feel the vibrations of your chant and observe whether your body feels relaxed or not. If not, you can repeat this cycle.

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold the Corpse pose for 1 to 5 minutes. 

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold the Corpse pose for 10 to 20 minutes.

Part 2: Things to Keep in Mind

If you are a beginner at this practice, it’s good to stay aware of some key points before starting your yoga practice. The following are some important things to keep in mind while practicing Shavasana: 

  • Don't arch your lower back: There should not be any gaps between your lower back and the ground while lying down on the yoga mat. This unnecessary gap can cause pressure and pain in the lower back.

So, make sure to tuck the abdomen inside towards the spine. When you engage the core, this arching problem no longer occurs.

  • Don't stress about your mindfulness: Many newbies start to feel stressed when they are asked to focus or be more conscious in the Corpse pose. As a beginner, it's too much. Just do what comes naturally. 

Don't overthink it, or you won't be able to relax properly. Take guidance from a certified teacher while practicing Shavasana if you feel stressed. 

  • Don’t let your mind wander: The human mind can be challenging to tame. Usually, when people with mental trauma or anxiety close their eyes, they find themselves lost in an infinite loop of memories. 

To avoid this, start to feel your breath or add a loud mantra chant while relaxing in the corpse pose. Smile big with your eyes closed if your thoughts are too painful or if they increase feelings of stress even more. 

Shavasana Modifications and Props

If every time you lie down on the ground feels painful, certain Corpse Pose modifications can help you relax into this pose. Below listed are some Shavasana modifications you can try if you are a beginner: 

  • Use pillows to elevate your upper body: If there is a gap between your lower back and the floor while lying down and you cannot engage the core properly, try putting a stack of folded blankets or cushions behind your lower back. 

This propped variation of Shavasana will reduce the arching in the lower back, keeping it safe from unwanted pain. This will allow your chest muscles to open even further, making it easy to breathe even deeper without any obstruction. 

Use pillows to elevate your upper body

This modified pose also works the best for pregnant women in their final trimester, easing pressure around the lower back and providing a deeper relaxation in leg muscles and spinal nerves. 

  • Use a bolster under knee joints: Many practitioners over-engage the muscles and lock their joints. This can cause unnecessary pressure and pain in those areas post-practice. Remember that in Shavasana, it's advisable to keep the core muscles engaged but equally important to keep from locking your knee and ankle joints. 

Use a bolster under knee joints

To avoid this, place a bolster pillow under your knees and let them bend. This posture will help keep your lower back tucked in and your knees safe from any joint pain. 

Shavasana Variations to Consider

Every yoga practitioner has varying abilities to perform the same yoga posture. Here are a few different types of variations you can try while performing the corpse pose. 

Choose the variation that best fits your practice routine from the list mentioned below.

1. Pentacle Pose: In the simple Shavasana stance, stretch the arms and legs wide to the sides like a star formation on the yoga mat. 

Pentacle Pose

Make sure your breath is continuous and deep. The more you flex in this posture, the more relaxed your muscles will feel. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 minutes to release tension around your arms and legs. 

2. Savasana Variation with Bent Legs: Also known as Constructive Rest Pose, this corpse pose variation is best suited for practitioners facing space issues between the lower back and ground while performing complete Shavasana. 

Savasana Variation with Bent Legs

The bent knees in corpse formation assist you in compressing the lower back further in the ground. This posture can be used as a gravitational pull to release the tension in the spine and lower back muscles. Also, it promotes good vertebrate alignment and the complete release of excess strain and stress. 

3. Savasana Variation Elevated Legs: 

In normal corpse posture, lift both legs upright towards the ceiling and add any supporting props like a gym ball, folded blankets, stacked pillows, or a chair in front of your hips to place your legs in a 90-degree angle. 

Savasana Variation Elevated Legs

Keep breathing at a normal pace and allow your upper body muscles to relax on the mat. Hold this pose here for as long as it feels comfortable. This is an excellent variation for women experiencing menstruation cramps, or people with pain around the knee joints. 

Learn Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with Expert Indian Yoga Teachers – FREE!
Sign up for a free trial with MyYogaTeacher and get 14-days of unlimited live yoga classes online plus 2 complimentary private yoga sessions to help you get started!
Level-Up Poses After Shavasana for Advanced Yogis

Try the following level-up poses after the Corpse pose practice to improve your mental health, and enhance the physical release of tension.

The following are some advanced poses that will help your body and mind further release any remaining negative energy from deeper tissues within: 

Level-Up Pose 1 - Supta Vrksasana (Supine Tree Pose)

Level-Up Pose 2 - Savasana Variation On the Side (Corpse Pose On The Side)

Level-Up Pose 3 Advasana (Reverse Corpse Pose)

Supta Vrksasana (Supine Tree Pose)

Supta Vrksasana (Supine Tree Pose)

Savasana Variation On the Side (Corpse Pose On The Side)

Savasana Variation On the Side (Corpse Pose On The Side)

10 (3).jpg

Advasana (Reverse Corpse Pose)

Similar Relax and Restorative Poses like Shavasana

Below, we have listed some deep backbend yoga poses to enhance your yoga practice: 

  1. Balasana (Child's Pose)

  2. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose) 

  3. Uttana Shishosana (Puppy Pose)

  4. Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)

  5. Paschimottanasana (The Seated Forward Bend)

Frequently Asked Questions about Shavasana (Corpse Pose)

What is the meaning of Shavasana?

What is the upright Shavasana pose?

What is the benefit of Shavasana?

Can beginners perform Shavasana?

Is it spelled Shavasana or Savasana?

Why is Shavasana one of the most challenging poses?

Articles about Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
Interested in starting a Hatha yoga practice? 10 tips to get started!

Are you new to yoga? Looking to develop a practice but don’t know what style or where to begin? Hatha yoga is a great choice for beginners looking to ...

Continue Reading
Practicing Yoga with your Partner : 14 Yoga Poses Practice To Deepen Your Connection

Are you looking to deepen your connection with your partner? Feeling detached? Yoga is a great way to reconnect with yourself and your relationship. I...

Continue Reading
Yoga For Hypertension: 5 Yoga Asanas to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common condition that can affect your arteries. Nearly one in three people experience hypertension each year....

Continue Reading
Ratings & Reviews
Excellent class

Sat, Jul 20

Super class enjoyed lot. Have nice weekend Sandhya...Read more

Fri, Jul 19

Wowzer dragons flying, sleeping and toes wakeups! ...Read more

Fri, Jul 19


Fri, Jul 19

Great practice today. Thankyou Sujit.

Fri, Jul 19

Session was so good, I hv very bad body ache and I...Read more

Sat, Jul 20

Learn Shavasana (Corpse Pose) with Expert Indian Yoga Teachers – FREE!
Sign up for a free trial with MyYogaTeacher and get 14-days of unlimited live yoga classes online plus 2 complimentary private yoga sessions to help you get started!

Looking to practice Shavasana ?

Drop your email in the field below, and we'll let you know as soon as we've added a Shavasana !