Corpse pose and our dance with death
Since it's Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about our friend corpse pose (AKA dead man's pose or final savasana).
You probably know that corpse pose is done at the end of your yoga practice. It helps your body rest and absorb the good work you've done.
But did you know, as the name implies, it's also about death?
Corpse pose helps prepare us for death. The first time I heard that I was creeped out. In our culture, we fear death. We rarely discuss it and the topic makes us shift uncomfortably in our seat.
Even if you believe in life after death, whether that's heaven or reincarnation, the thought of what it's like to actually die might make you want to go look at a bunch of cat videos on YouTube. Death is an uncomfortable topic because it's associated with fear, pain and loss. (Not to mention ghosts, haunted graveyards and all the things that go bump in the night on Halloween.)
But in other cultures, death is a welcomed visitor. It's a natural phase in the circle of life. People accept their fate with open arms.
Corpse pose helps us RIP.
In final savasa, we have the opportunity to rest in peace for a few minutes. Death is an intimidating presence. But corpse pose isn't intimidating; it's peaceful. It feels great. We give ourselves permission to completely relax and enjoy lying in complete stillness. It can be somewhat of an out-of-body experience as you let your shell melt into the mat as your Self becomes an observer of your physical body.
This stillness, this peaceful rest, is lovely. You're in a state of potent sobriety that helps you accept the inevitable dance with death.
It's hard to accept death, making corpse pose the hardest pose to master.
You might have heard your yoga teacher say that corpse pose is the most challenging asana.
What? But you just like, lie there. Doing nothing.
The challenge lies in your mind. You fidget and feel uncomfortable in your body's silence. You become aware of the sensations of your breathing -- the pranayama, or life force -- that drives your presence in your physical body. You become aware of the fact that this breath will someday end ...
You can accept your mortality.
You are going to die. I am going to die. Those are facts.
Learning to love the silence and finding peace in corpse pose helps us accept our mortality. We can find peace in feeling the separation of body and spirit, knowing that we will someday leave this body permanently but that our spirit, our true Self, isn't attached to our body.
The next time you're in corpse pose, I encourage you embrace the stillness. Death doesn't have to be so creepy.
(But maybe today, death is a little creepy. Happy Halloween!)