DevaTree Blog

The Heart of Savasana Part 2: Moving Toward Silence

Posted By Misty Lucas on Jan 10, 2020

Do you ever wish your teacher would stop talking in Savasana? 

It might surprise you to learn that Savasana was actually meant to be practiced in complete silence.

Over the years, students have shared they prefer it when the teacher doesn’t talk so much during relaxation pose. 

And yet, total silence can scare beginner students away because they aren’t used to lying down in a room full of strangers—they need something for their mind to grab onto.

How do modern yoga teachers find that sweet balance between silence and sound?

The literal translation of Savasana is sava = corpse, and asana = pose. The purpose of Savasana (in a yogic way) is to surrender and allow unwanted thoughts and emotions to die away. One of the first mentions of Savasana is in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, chapter 1 verse 32. It says: "Laying down on the ground, like a corpse, is called Śava-āsana. It removes fatigue and gives rest to the mind."  Savasana gives us the opportunity to consciously relax, dissolve the mind, and let go of the ego. 

In the West we refer to Savasana as relaxation pose (which it is), but the true intention is to become like a corpse, which gives context to the need for silence. 

Now more than ever, we need to have opportunities to shut off and be more corpse-like! Our lives are such a flurry of activity that there’s simply no time to rest. Savasana gives us that rare opportunity to go within and tune out the external world. 

But if the teacher is constantly talking, going within can be harder. 

As teachers, when we talk through Savasana, our students are in our experience and not their own. 

Music can also take us away from our own experience. 

Everyone responds differently to music. It can relax us, but in some situations, it can create discomfort. Savasana is a vulnerable position, since the front body is open, exposed, and eyes are closed. If you’ve noticed beginner students crossing their legs or arms, it’s because the pose can leave them feeling unprotected. While the teacher might find the music enjoyable, students can be triggered by it, even traumatized.

People crave input from words and music because Savasana might be a place to escape their thoughts and feelings. However, with practice, Savasana helps release us from our focus on the past and fears of the future. We draw awareness inward and begin to peel back the layers of who we are. 

Silence is not empty. 

In silence we can hear our own thoughts, rest our nervous system, connect to our intuition, and rediscover ourselves. 

Being present and surrendering to ourselves doesn’t just happen spontaneously—it’s a conscious choice. 

In Savasana we’re not trying to meditate, control our breath, or change our thoughts. We’re letting go of external input and becoming more at ease with ourselves.

Still, silence is hard for most people. We’re so use to noise that silence makes us feel uneasy. We might even equate silence with anger, disapproval, or rejection. The awkwardness around silence is understandable.

Getting to a place where we can handle silence may take time, which is why it’s good to practice. 

Handstand takes baby steps to master, and so does Savasana. Savasana has its own purpose and alignment (physical and energetic) just like all the other poses. While a silent Savasana isn’t a hard and fast rule, it may be something to aspire to. It’s a key part of “aligning ourselves” in this purposeful posture.

Here are some tips for deepening into the silence:

  1. Increase silence slowly. Try a minute or two at first, then 3, then 5. Or guide your students with your voice for a few moments until they’re settled, then move into silence.
  2. If you prefer music, experiment with using music that doesn’t have lyrics.
  3. If you’re already using music without lyrics, try using even more subtle or quieter music.
  4. Turn down the music so it’s quieter.
  5. Use one 3-5 minute song, and let the rest of Savasana be silent.
  6. Gradually lengthen the silence (and lengthen Savasana itself) over the course of an 8-week session until the last class has a completely silent Savasana.
  7. Take more restorative classes to become more comfortable with stillness and silence. 
  8. If you’re teaching an 8-10 week series, consider dedicating an entire final class to restorative yoga that includes periods of silence.
  9. If you still prefer music and enjoy sacred chant, check out Chidananda by Brenda McMorrow (DevaTree Faculty), or Songs for Savasana by Rachel McGarry (DevaTree Teacher).

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What works best for you and your students? Let me know, in the comments below. 

Much love and peace,

Misty Shakti Lucas

Misty directs DevaTree’s 50-hr Restorative Yoga Teacher Training beginning January 24th and our 200-hr YTT in Petrolia, Ontario starting January 16th. 

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4 Comment(s)

Kristi Corlett on January 10, 2020
Love these reflections, Shakti! Personally I love to provide live music to my classes for shavasana, usually compositions that are chanted à la kirtan so the mind doesn't need to hang onto an ongoing lyric "story." But I often start with singing bowls, which of course give vibration without words. And now I will look at incorporating more silence and how that can be brought back to the corpse asana / final rest experience. I really appreciate the wisdom you offer on this! Namaste.
Misty on January 13, 2020
Ah beautiful Kristi as a receiver of one of your magical savasanas I love the beauty of your voice and find it comforting and relaxing as a final rest. Thank you for sharing your reflections and your beautiful heart and thank you for being open to my reflections on savasana. xoxo
Rachel McGarry on January 10, 2020
What a beautiful article! Thank you for sharing. I love to sing to my students in savasana and play sound healing instruments...AND I have been experimenting with letting the sound fade away and spending a few minutes in silence (well, not completely because you know me and nature sounds...crickets anyone?) I am excited to try more and more silence in savasana. Thanks Shakti! xo ...and thanks for the album mention :)
Misty on January 13, 2020
Thank you so much Rachel. Another beautiful songstress whose gift of song supportsthe practice of savasana. That is amazing you have been experimenting with the fading out of sound. Yoga is all about playing in the practice and seeing what works and does not work. I appreciate you taking the time to read the blog and sharing your experiences!

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