Pose of The Month 2017 is drawn from a few of the projects I worked on in 2016.

Several of this year's offerings are taken from two chapters I wrote for a new book by Frank Lipman MD: 10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat...And How You Can Stay Young, Slim, and Happy!

Other (restorative) poses are from a project which showed how to practice when props are not available. A few are repeats from previous years. Still more were written especially for this website.

The twelve poses strung together, one for every month of the year, make up a balanced sequence for you to practice.

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

spacerDecember —
Savasana: corpse pose
Supported Savasana
Prone Savasana: face down corpse pose
Chair Savasana

Savasana: the classical pose

Supported Savasana

Prone Savasana:

Chair Savasana:

Chair Savasana with Bolster:

Models: Yvonne de Kock, Lisa Kazmer, and Brina Gehrey.

Savasana — the classical pose

B.K.S. Iyengar once said that Savasana is the hardest pose. It is certainly one of — if not the most — important of the yoga postures. Most practitioners manage to make an active asana practice in some way, shape, or form a part of their routine — even if it's only one class a week (which by the way, brings awesome rewards). But Savasana? Maybe we pay it lip service and lie down at the end of our practice for a few minutes.

Since consistency of practice brings us the most benefits, and despite the fact that beginners find it easier to practice Savasana after practicing the other, active poses, let us get on the mat for at least 15 minutes every day, practice Savasana and see what happens. It certainly takes most of us 15 minutes of Savasana to be ready for Pranayama.

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Rest your entire back flat on the floor.

Center your spine along the center of the mat. Keep your head centered, not allowing it to fall to the side. If you'd like to use a blanket under your head, prepare that before adjusting the arms. To block out the light and relax the pupils, place a cloth over your eyes, or wrap your head and eyes with a bandage.

Extend your arms outward from the torso evenly and symmetrically. Turn the inner, upper arms out in their sockets and rest them on the floor away from the trunk. Roll your shoulder blades down and in, bringing a little lift to the chest. With your hands, move the buttock flesh away from your back waist.

Maintaining the arm position, extend your legs out, one by one. Allow the feet to roll outward and relax them completely. Readjust your head: place it carefully back on the floor, again, resting it at the center of the base of the skull.

Let go first the outer layer of your being — the Anamya Kosha (muscles, bones, skin). Mentally scan the body from head to foot, gradually releasing each body part and each muscle group; take time to notice all the places where the body is making contact with the floor.

Continuing to relax each part of the body, now let go the next layer in, the Pranamya Kosha, the organic body: in particular, the pelvic organs and the throat.

To let go mentally, relax the facial muscles, beginning with the forehead and eyelids. Then relax the cheeks, lips, jaw and throat. This releases tension in the face, which has a direct effect on the brain and mind.

When the physical and mental bodies are still and at rest, allow the sound of the breath to draw you inward. Let it flow smoothly in and out. You may notice that the breath has become quiet and almost invisible.

Coming out: Take two, or three or more deep breaths. Give yourself a few moments to regain physical awareness of your arms and legs, and then slowly turn over to your right side.

Iyengar teachers do not wake students if they fall asleep during Savasana, or Pranayama in Savasana.

"Don't be afraid of sleeping in Savasana. It will relax your brain."
— Geeta Iyengar

Variations and modifications:

Lying flat on the floor can feel strange at first, so be patient with yourself. If you feel uncomfortable in any part of your body, you may need further support. Use props to relieve any pressure and release tension so you can fully relax.

  • Support under your head: Most people benefit from some support under their heads. Place a firmly folded blanket under your head. Your shoulders should be touching the ground, not the blanket. Make sure your chin is pointing slightly down toward your chest, not tipping back away from it. In other words, your forehead should be slightly higher than your chin.
  • To relax the lower back: Slide a bolster under your knees.
  • To relieve menstrual cramps: Place a bolster across the tops of your thighs.

Supported Savasana

Place a bolster or a stack of narrow fold blankets vertically on your mat. Place a folded blanket at the top end of your bolster for your head to rest on.

Sit in front of the bottom edge of the bolster or narrow fold blanket, with your knees bent.

Lie back, resting your spine over the support, and your head on the folded blanket.

Be sure to place the blanket under the entire neck, all the way to your shoulders, but not under the shoulders. If you wear glasses, remove them now. Before adjusting your arms, place a cloth over your eyes (optional).

Extend your legs out in front of you, as in classical Savasana. Adjust your head. Extend the arms at the sides. They should be far enough away from the torso at a 45° — 60° angle from the sides of your body, to allow the inner upper arm to roll away from the chest. Keep your armpit area open and the shoulders releasing down toward the floor. Spread and open the palms and fingers, and then allow the back of the hand to soften and rest on the floor.

Check that each leg is equidistant from the midline of your body. If you are going to practice Pranayama in this pose, position the feet at the center of the back of the heel so feet are upright.

Notice the natural flow of your incoming and outgoing breath.

Prone Savasana

You will need three blankets — one each under the torso and legs, pelvis, and head.

Lie face down with your head centered on a folded blanket. Make sure you can comfortably breathe through your nose. Place another under your pelvis (with the lowest edge beneath the hip points).

Rest your arms out by your sides. Extend your legs straight back, then touch your toes together. Roll your thighs and toes in, and let your heels fall out to the sides. Relax your muscles.

With hands above head, or head resting on hands: Lie face down with your elbows bent out to the side, and your forehead resting on your hands or on a blanket.

With a weight on the sacral joint and lower legs, and a rolled blanket under the ankles:

This setup, which was made at RIMYI, Pune, for the medical classes, will be mostly of interest to Iyengar teachers.

Chair Savasana

Bring a chair onto the edge of the mat. Turn it around so the seat points toward you. Lie down on your back and swing your legs up to rest on a bolster which has been placed on the chair seat.

Place a sand bag across your abdomen, taking care not to place it on the diaphragm or breathing will be affected.

Chair Savasana with Bolster

Support your spine along a vertical bolster, with a blanket for your head. You may add a headwrap. Elongate your exhalations, observing the pause at the end of the exhalation.

By placing your calves on a chair, your spine gains traction.

Adjust your legs if necessary to be sure the calves are supported equally. Place a blanket under your head and neck (all the way to your shoulders) so that you can drop your chin and direct your gaze downward toward your heart. If you wear glasses, remove them now.

Rest your arms to your sides with the palms facing up. Roll the shoulders blades away from your neck and externally rotate the upper arms so your palms are face up and the skin rolls away from the chest. Tuck your shoulder blades in toward your back so the center of the chest is broad and lifted. No part of the upper arm should be touching the torso.

Relax the back muscles by allowing them to spread from the center out to the sides. Bring your attention to the whole back, feeling the even weight of the left and right back ribs in contact with the floor.

Rest here for 5 – 15 minutes.

B.K.S. Iyengar's therapeutic setup.

This too may be interesting for teachers in the Iyengar method. Guruji demonstrated this variation. 

For those with these kind of problems, start your practice like this to relax the muscles of the lumbar spine.

With thanks and gratitude to my teachers, BKS Iyengar (1918-2014), Prashant Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar, Abhijata Sridhar, and Sunita Parthasarthy.

Drawings and text © Bobby Clennell. All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior permission.

©2008 – 2017 Bobby Clennell.