How to Master Corpse Pose Step-by-Step
With a name like corpse pose, I can see how you might be hesitant to give it a try. Don’t shy away though because it’s known to calm the mind, reduce headaches, insomnia and lower blood pressure just to name a few key benefits.
But don’t be deceived by this seemingly simple position, the yoga masters have often said this is one of the most difficult poses to master. With that in mind, let us help you nail it!
6 Steps to Corpse Pose in Yoga
Corpse pose is simple enough to get into. But the trick is learning to release the tension throughout your body and cultivate enough awareness and joy in the moment to hold the pose for long periods without falling asleep (unless you’re doing it before bed). Here’s how to perform the corpse pose:
- Begin on your yoga mat or comfortable carpet and lie down on your back. Place your feet shoulder width apart with your hands straight down and slightly out to the sides.
- Rest there for a moment and allow your breath to come and go naturally.
- Feel the ground underneath you and become aware of the sensations occurring with your body, within your body, and notice how your body’s interacting with the space around you.
- Now, beginning with the bottoms of your feet, intentionally release the tension from every part of your body, all the way to the top of your head.
- Take extra care now to release all tension in your face and eyes.
- Rest in this pose for as long as you like and get up when ready (or drift into a restful sleep).
Modifications and Alternatives
If you’re having trouble holding corpse or find that you’re uncomfortable, there’s several modifications you can make.
First, you know your body better than anyone so listen to yourself and modify as you know you need to. In addition to listening to your body, here’s a few modifications that you may find help you achieve greater personal depths:
Place Your Legs on a Chair
- Grab a chair or set up in front of a couch with your feet pointed towards the chair/couch.
- Resting on the center of your mat, gently lift your legs up and place them on the chair.
- Adjust yourself closer until your calves are entirely resting on the surface.
- Maintain your arms at your sides and hold the pose for as long as you like.
Place Your Legs on a Bolster
Similar to using a chair or couch, the bolster offers leg support which can reduce lower back pressure. The benefit of using the bolster is that it’s lower to the floor which can prevent your legs from going numb due to lack of blood flow. To perform this pose:
- Align yourself centered on your mat with a bolster towards the base of your mat.
- Gently exhale and place your legs on the bolster so that it’s directly under your calves, just below your knees.
- Rest your arms out about 6 inches from your sides and breathe naturally.
- Hold the pose for as long as you like and then exit when you’re ready.
Use a Pillow for Your Head & Back
Similar to placing support under your legs, using a pillow, bolster or folded blanket under your head and back can relieve pressure in the neck and spine. To use this method:
- Place your bolster towards the top of your mat, horizontally and another vertically so they meet in a “T” shape.
- Now lie back on them, making sure the vertical bolster is supporting the length of your spine and the other is supporting your head.
- Extend both legs straight out so they’re approximately hip width apart.
- Place your arms down and slightly out from your sides.
- Take breaths and relax in this pose for as long as you like.
About Corpse pose
If You Feel Pain
If you feel back discomfort, don’t be afraid to bend your knees to relieve pressure but avoid placing your heels too close to your site bones. Additionally, you can prop your legs up on a bolster, chair or couch which flattens the curve in your lower back and relieves discomfort.
For pregnant women, never do this pose unless your head and chest are raised on a bolster or stack of pillows.
Improve Your Corpse Pose
- Place an eye bag, T-shirt or towel over your eyes to block out the external light
- Try putting a 10 lb sandbag or layer a few blankets over your stomach to help relax your abdominal muscles
You don’t need any props to perform Savasana properly. However, it can help to use both a bolster and yoga strap. Simply secure the strap so it’s in a loop and then place your legs into the loop. This can help to hold your feet in an upward position without drifting out (which is how this pose is traditionally performed).
You wouldn’t think something as simple as laying down could have many benefits beyond relaxation. However, corpse is a beneficial pose for multiple reasons:
- It lowers blood pressure
- Calms your mind, reduces stress and may be beneficial to depression
- May reduce headaches
- Boosts energy
- It can help you fall asleep when performed in your bed at night
While it can take a lifetime to master, corpse pose is fantastic for beginners to start with. To bring it into your routine, practice first thing in the morning or as you’re going to sleep at night.
Notice whether or not you sleep better or wake up more relaxed after doing this pose and pay attention to how the rest of your day goes. My bet is that you’ll feel less stressed, more motivated and happier in general.