I started going to regular yoga classes 8 years ago when I was working as a personal trainer in Mexico. At the time, I was lifting weights several times a week, training every day at a boxing gym and teaching high-intensity abs classes in the evenings. Yoga provided the perfect balance to my heavy training schedule and I immediately fell in love with it.
Now I, perhaps like you, am an unlikely yogi. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had ants in my pants. When I was little, I marked out a 200m running track in the field at the back of my garden and timed myself doing laps. I just couldn’t sit still. So when it came to that long, lying down bit at the end of the yoga class, I quietly got to my feet, rolled up my mat and tiptoed out of the studio. Final Resting Pose wasn’t for me. It was—quite obviously—for people who had nothing better to do.
I’m embarrassed to admit that it wasn’t until last year that I finally started to appreciate this part of the class. Now it's my favourite bit. Except for all the other bits.
The Sanskrit name for this pose is śavāsana, which means corpse posture.
Benefits for athletes
- Restores the body after physical exertion.
- Releases tension in tight muscles.
- Quiets the mind.
- Encourages deep, diaphragmatic breathing.
- Allows for the consolidation of neuromuscular adaptation.
- Fine-tunes interoception (body awareness).
- Relieves stress.
- Improves focus and concentration.
- Provides a space for meditation.
1. Position yourself for relaxation
- Lie on your back on a mat or relatively hard surface.
- Let your feet come as wide as the mat and fall open.
- Relax your hands, palms facing up and tuck your shoulder blades underneath you.
- Close your eyes and try to stay completely still.
* If your lower back is uncomfortable, you can put a pillow under your knees. Physical pain or discomfort creates tension in the body, which makes it hard to fully let go.
2. Scan your body for sensations
Scan your body, part by part, all the way from the tips of your toes, all the way up to the crown of your head. Observe both subtle and more obvious sensations—systematically letting go of tension as you go. Allow your body to become heavy and melt into the mat.
3. Follow your breath for 5-15 minutes
Bring your attention to your breath. Take a few slow breaths, deep into your abdomen—and notice how your body relaxes on every exhalation.
As you allow your breath to settle into its natural rhythm, notice the physical sensations of breath in your body. Become aware of the gentle rising and falling of your chest and abdomen. Tune into the sensation of expansion and contraction in your torso. Notice how your body breathes itself. And on every exhalation, try to let go of a little more tension.
When a thought pops into your mind, let it go. Try not to follow it into a story. Some people call it time-travelling when you get lost in thought—as thoughts are generally about the past or the future. Draw your attention back to the gentle rising and falling of your chest and abdomen to bring yourself back into the present. Your brain can only pay attention to one thing at a time, so the more you are able to sustain your focus on the sensation of breath entering and exiting your body, the quieter your mind will become.
4. To come out of the pose
- Wriggle your fingers and toes.
- Bring your arms up overhead and have a good stretch.
- Roll onto your right side and stay here for a few breaths.
- When you are ready, gently bring yourself back up to sitting. Now, you can move back into your day.
Practice practice practice
It may take some time for you to reach a deep state of relaxation but as with any pose, it becomes easier with practice. In the beginning, you might fall asleep, find it difficult to quiet your mind or experience a strong impulse to move, but gradually you’ll be able to drop into a blissful state more and more easily.
My hope is that it doesn’t take you 8 years to give Final Resting Pose a chance. Because nothing else matters.
Thoughts from fellow Yoga 15ers
“It is truly transformative. I was also a big avoider of the full body scan at the end of the sessions. Then I realised that this actually lets you tune in to the areas that are tight, feeling better or need more focus for the next session. Far from being ‘mumbo jumbo’ or ‘hippy sh!t’. It actually gets you in synch with your own body, and that’s the whole point. Love it.” Gavin Targonski
“The longer resting time is a mental challenge to see how relaxed I can get. I use the time to examine the places where I usually hold tension, especially my facial muscles, and work on getting that relaxed, blissful feeling.” Shelby Knudson
“It doesn't happen every time but on the meditation element it feels like I am floating on air if/when I can really relax. Never experienced anything like it and when I get up it feels like I've slept for several hours!” Steve Matthews
I'd love to hear how you feel about Final Resting Pose. Please add your COMMENTS in the section below whether you love it or hate it.