186
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q
What is
savasana and
what are its
benefits?
Savasana is practiced lying flat on
your back with your legs and arms
relaxed symmetrically, palms face
up. It can also be used for relaxation
and as a meditation posture if
sitting is uncomfortable or you are
not well. Its many benefits include:
activating the parasympathetic
nervous system (PNS) and all the
profound benefits of this relaxation
response, including lowering blood
pressure and slowing heart rate
teaching muscles to relax
effectively
increasing heart rate variability,
representing resilience.
Q
What is
progressive
muscle relaxation?
Progressive muscle relaxation
(PMR) involves squeezing and
then releasing your muscles, often
sequentially from head to toe, while
in Savasana. This encourages
neuromuscular connection, giving
the body-mind clear examples of
tension and release, which helps the
body relax physically. Immediately
after your muscle fibers contract,
they have the capacity to lengthen
or relax even more.
Q
Why is there
often a longer,
guided savasana at
the end of class?
This is a mindfulness practice
called yoga nidra. Nidra means
sleep, so think of it as a “yoga nap.
A general intention of the practice is
to remain alert to allow observation
of the physiological effects of each
stage of sleep. It is usually practiced
in Savasana for 15–30 minutes
and in small studies has shown
promising results for improving
sleep, decreasing depression, and
managing chronic pain.
Also known as Corpse pose, Savasana is the final relaxation pose often
practiced for 5–15 minutes at the end of yoga classes. It is also used for
meditative practices, such as yoga nidra. While there is still more research to
be done, Savasana has been used clinically for its relaxation benefits.
SAVASANA
Savasana
activates the
parasympathetic
nervous system
and all the
profound
benefits of this
relaxation
response.
6
weekly sessions
of yoga nidra
improved stress,
muscle tension,
and self-care.
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187
Q
Lying flat on
my back is
uncomfortable.
What can I do?
Many people find Savasana
uncomfortable, particularly for their
backs. Try using a support under
your knees or lying in a constructive
rest position—raising your knees
and placing the soles of your feet
on the floor—to relieve tension in
your lower back. This can also help
stop you from falling asleep.
Q
Does yoga nidra provide the same
benefits as sleep?
Although it does seem to offer
many of the same rejuvenating
benefits, yoga nidra does not
replace sleep. However, it does
produce brain wave patterns similar
to those of sleep (see below).
MYTH-BUSTER
Savasana prevents
lactic acid buildup.
No. Lactic acid, a waste product
from muscle engagement, is
broken down and removed by your
liver within minutes after exertion.
To reduce soreness, build the
intensity of your asana practice
over time. You can also rest the
sore muscles by doing a more
restorative class or working
different muscle groups.
Fully awake
Fully awake
First stage
of sleep
Next stage of
sleep
Deep dreamless
sleep
Initially when
transitioning into
the practice
Not nidra
During body scan
and relaxation
May be reached,
likely later in
the practice
May be reached
but there is little
to no evidence
of this
Conscious
Conscious
Conscious—
gateway to the
subconscious
Subconscious
Unconscious
Thinking and
talking
High alertness (not
well understood)
Relaxation
Creative problem
solving
Rejuvenation
and intuition
DELTA
THETA
ALPHA
BETA
GAMMA
BRAINWAVE
SLEEP STAGE
YOGA NIDRA
STAGE
LEVEL OF
CONSCIOUSNESS
CHARACTERISTICS
Brain frequency chart
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