Costa Rica Yoga JournalMark Goldstein

The hardest most important pose in all of yoga

shivasanaBy Mark Goldstein

We were in Shivasana at the end of a yoga class recently, and because it is the dry season, the waterfall next to our yoga deck is running much softer now. With the music off, the sounds of the surrounding jungle settled in, and the slow steady sound of falling water became a mesmerizing force that set us deep into our final pose of the session. Shivasana. 

Shivasana, or corpse pose, is our pose of the month. There is not a lot of technique to discuss for this pose. For the most part you need to lie still and let everything fall away. 

Playa Yoga

It is often said that Shivasana is the most important pose in all of yoga. Shivasana is also said to be the most difficult. I wouldn’t agree that is difficult to do, but it can be illusive to fully attain what we are after. 

What are we after? A whole bunch of nothingness along with a whole bunch of everything happening all at once. How can that be? 

When we stop and lie still at the end of a yoga session, we hope to leave everything behind. No thoughts, no movements, no needs or desires, nothing. Just nothing.

But, what we hope to experience is everything that is going on in our physical body. Everything. 

After a nice hour or hour and a half of a great physical yoga practice, we can experience a profound feeling of openness. Openness in our breath, our muscles, our bones, our joints, our circulatory system, perhaps also in our minds. When we stop, really stop our movements and thoughts at the end of practice, what is left behind is this amazing energy that courses through our bodies. 

Shivasana is the time that we give our bodies to digest all of this, and to let all of the healing that we have created in our bodies to settle into where it needs to be. Why would anyone want to miss that? Especially when all you have to do is lie there?

At the end of a class, after what I have presented as our final posture of the session, I invite all to do whatever they feel will make them feel complete in in their practice for that day. I ask them to do this before transitioning into Shivasana. Some may crack their knuckles, or stretch like a cat. Others will take another spinal twist, or an inversion like a head stand. In any case, you want to wring it all out, feel complete, done. 

Then, we lay on our backs. We place our feet about hip distance apart, and allow our feet to roll out. Our arms are placed slightly away from our bodies with our palms facing up. Perhaps you will place a cover on your eyes, or a pillow under your knees, or nothing at all, again, whatever completes you. And then we let go. 

Every yoga session should finish with Shivasana. Stay there for at least five minutes, or more if you like. I will be adding some extra touches to Shivasana in all of my classes this month, please join us if you like. I offer private yoga classes for individuals and small groups at our retreat here in Manuel Antonio, or I can come to you. Yoga can be a wonderful part of your life, and I hope that I can be a part of opening that up to you.