Savasana and the Parasympathetic System

Savasana or Corpse Pose probably has to be one of my favourite poses. My fiancé likes to refer to it as ‘the lie down bit at the end’, and it certainly is a great chance for relaxation at the end of class, but it is also so much more than that. After a yoga practice Savasana allows us to connect in with our parasympathetic system and make sure our body benefits from all the work we have just done.

The parasympathetic system is often referred to as the ‘rest and digest’ function; it works in opposition to the sympathetic system, or our ‘fight or flight’ response. The fight or flight response uses your body’s energy sources to prepare for a stressful situation, whereas the rest and digest  system helps restore the body’s energy. As suggested by referring to the parasympathetic system as ‘rest and digest’, it also increases blood flow to the gut and aides digestion. Savasana is particularly important if we’ve done a strong yoga practice and raised our heart rate; it brings the body back into a balanced state.

For me, Savasana is like an old friend, I know it is always waiting for me at the end of my practice and while we may not always get on, it’s always there for me when I need it. On some days I can’t wait to get through my practice so that I can flop into Savasana and on other days lying in Savasana feels like an eternity and no matter how hard I try I can’t surrender to its calm. Either way there is always a comfort in knowing that the pose is there when I need it.

My relationship with Savasana wasn’t always comfortable, particularly as a beginner when there were times when Savasana almost felt like torture. If this is you, try to stick with it, the calm will come and I can’t stress how important this pose is. Constantly hanging out in fight or flight mode stresses and exhausts our body, Savasana is a chance to reboot and replenish the body, not to mention it’s nice to have a little lie down at the end of class.

L xx

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