Shavasana – Relaxation – Learn to Regulate Nervous System

Hi Yogis,

Shavasana (relaxation) in Yoga practice is as important as achieving the most advanced poses if not more important. Here are my thoughts about this topic to remind you why you shouldn’t underestimate relaxation.

I originally covered this topic in 2023, here is an amended version with a couple of simple corrections for our studio blog.

Namaste, Ezgi


“Shavasana, the ultimate relaxation pose, is often taken at the end of a physical yoga practice.

We all know Shavasana provides much-needed rest after a demanding yoga session, but its benefits go beyond mere relaxation.

Main benefits include:

  • Calming the mind
  • Reducing fatigue and stress
  • Calming the nervous system
  • Relaxing muscular tension

In his book “Ashtanga Yoga, The Practice Manual,” senior Ashtanga Yoga teacher David Swenson beautifully describes Shavasana, also known as ‘Corpse Pose’:

“We give birth to each practice session when we take our first breath in Shavasana. There is a beginning, middle, and end in the life of each practice series…When we have completed our routine for the day, it is time to wind down and finally to stop. To return to stillness…In this stillness we allow the gross and subtle body to absorb and assimilate prana…”

Shavasana relaxation

There are various ways to take Shavasana, but the basic version involves lying on your back with feet comfortably apart, arms slightly away from the body, palms facing upwards, head straight, and eyes closed. It’s advisable to cover yourself with a blanket to maintain body temperature.

You may encounter more elaborate versions with props like extra blankets, eye pillows, or bolsters, which deepen the relaxation experience. Taking Shavasana after breathing exercises, even for a minute, is beneficial.

Let’s delve into the autonomic nervous system, closely linked with relaxation. It regulates vital body processes like digestion, blood circulation, heartbeat, and body temperature.

There are two types:

  • Sympathetic autonomic nervous system (SNS): Stimulates the “fight or flight” response.
  • Parasympathetic autonomic nervous system (PNS): Stimulates the “rest and digest” response.

In our fast-paced lives, the SNS often dominates, but Shavasana activates the PNS, promoting relaxation and restoration.

Most yoga classes activate the SNS, making Shavasana essential for calming and resting the body and mind. It’s a chance to train ourselves to slow down and support our nervous system’s functioning.

Next time you take Shavasana, try holding it a minute longer than usual, rather than rushing.

For further reading, I recommend “Buddha’s Brain” by Richard Hanson Ph.D. with Richard Mendius MD, and “One Simple Thing” by Eddie Stern.

Looking forward to seeing you in class soon!”




Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.