Shavasana is a Sanskrit word meaning corpse. In yoga, it refers both to a position and to a set of relaxation practices.
In shavasana, you lie comfortably on your back on a firm surface like a carpeted floor (not a bed). Let the arms and legs rest about a foot out from the body with the palms up and the toes relaxed to the sides if that is comfortable. Place a small cushion under the head and extend the head away from the body so there is no compression in the back of the neck. Lift the hips and move them a bit away from the shoulders so the lower back is comfortable. You could also place a folded blanket or bolster under the knees if you have any tightness or pain in the lower back. Cover yourself with a warm blanket so you will not be cold during the practice.
Be aware of your entire body and relax any tension or holding as you bring the mind slowly through the body from the head to the toes. Then allow your mind to move up the body from toes to head, letting your body settle more comfortably onto the floor.
Bring your awareness to the navel center in the belly area and observe the breath. Don’t try to make the breath longer or slower. Simply observe your natural rhythm. Continue to relax the body to allow the breath to move without restriction. A relaxed body will naturally breathe diaphragmatically, smoothly with no pauses, breaks or jerks. Practice diaphragmatic breathing until it becomes second nature to you.
Shavasana practices are done with the body and breath completely relaxed and the mind alert and awake.
This is the basic posture from which to practice many relaxation exercises.
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