How Should We Breathe In Savasna?

I love savasna! I mean, who doesn’t? To me, savasna is the dessert after the healthy meal. It is the whipped cream on the sundae, the icing on the cupcake, the cashmere in the sweater. Alright, enough already, but as you can see, I like it very much. And it is an incredibly important part of the yoga practice as well, as it provides the opportunity for the body to absorb the benefits of the prior postures. A win-win situation if I every saw one.

While I know savasna has a proper form, I often just lie there comfortably in relaxation. Well, that is not exactly true. I do keep my heels together and let my toes drift out to the side, and I do keep my arms extended next to my body with my palms facing up. Other than that, I just lie there in heaven. But how should we be breathing in savasna?

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Most of the time, the teachers at my studio are silent during the savasna after the standing series, letting the class enjoy a peaceful 2 minutes of silence and well deserved rest. But in class the other day, one teacher, guided our breathing during savasna. “Breathe in for 4, out for 5,” she said. This was followed by, “In for 5, out for 6.” And so on until we were breathing in for 6 and out for 7. It was interesting because I had never really focused on my breath during savasna before. I usually spend the time feeling my body relax and enjoying the powerful surge of blood through my veins. I can almost feel my body healing at times. Usually I have a nice smile on my face.

But this time, I focused on my breath, and gradually slowed its pace to match her words. It was interesting, because I realized that sometimes during savasna, my mind must have been wandering, but while counting my breath, that did not happen. I stayed more present in the moment, almost like I was meditating. Plus the slower breath enhanced my relaxation. I liked it and decided I would try to incorporate it into my savasnas going forward.

Readers, how do you breathe during savasna?

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7 thoughts on “How Should We Breathe In Savasna?

  1. What a wonderful query! Thank you for asking because I bet everyone reading this has thought that same thing at one point. In my experience, I have seen to many teacher over control asana and focus to much on form (or the picture you are making from looking outside in), instead on the function (the experience you are having from the inside out). Don’t worry about what your body is doing, especially in savasana. Everyone is different, with different limitations, so there comfortable place will look different. For example, a man with tight shoulders will most likely not be comfortable with their arms by their sides and palms up. Be comfortable in your body at that moment. That is part of being present.

    Now on to the breath. During savasana, it is a time of being present, to observe the different layers of you and to relax. Your breath should naturally calm and become slow and subtle. I love that your one teacher brought in pranayama dying this time though. You are so right! If a correct breath ratio is given then you can benefit from by experiencing calm, focus, healing, processing, etc. A teacher needs to know what they are giving though. By bringing in a different tool such as pranayama, you can help further changes in the system. I love bringing in ratios to help students find focus or to help them transition to the next activity of their day or to lead up to a guided meditation.

    As a student, begin to observe the different experiences you have during this period but know that you probably won’t be able to, or should, replicate that experience the next time. It is my hope that teachers have a reason they are guiding you through these instructions and not just doing something they don’t quite understand themselves.

    Enjoy your savasana!

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  2. Great post. I think it’s pretty common for people to use the final savasana as an opportunity to recoup and even drift after a strenuous practice. Like you, I’ve had instructors encourage me to be mindful of my breathing and go with the count. I try to slowly fill with air and exhale in an even fashion.

    I read an interesting article in Yoga Journal a few months ago, and the final savasana was analogized to hitting the save button at the end of working on a long document. That idea, coupled with posts like this and Traci’s great comment above, serve as a great reminder to be present and mindful on my practice from beginning to end.

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