Poses: Restorative Yoga Part 2

Savasana: Corpse Pose

Rest arms comfortably away from body, palms up. Place feet shoulder-width apart, allowing them to fall out. Relax everywhere.

Savasana 5- Step Process

Erich Schiffmann offers a 5-step process described in Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness 1996 p 296.

Step 1 – Begin by sitting with feet on floor.
Step 2 – Come down to forearms. Adjust hips so back is in cat tilt and bring low back and sacrum onto floor.
Step 3 – Release down so back lies flat. Extend arms to sides away from body, palms up. Flatten shoulder blades. Rest on center point of back of skull.
Step 4 – Slide one leg straight.
Step 5 – Slide second leg straight. Feet shoulder-width apart. Allow them to fall out. Relax everywhere.

Active Savasana

Neutralize or Prep for Other Poses

We’ve used the term “Active Savasana” to refer to the supine position shown above that is the basic shape of Savasana but may include more active muscle engagement (such as aligning legs and activating feet, for instance). This may be used as a preparatory step before supine poses such as Supta Padangusthasana, for example, or as a neutralizing pose.

Supported Savasana

Propping to Support Relaxation

Primary areas to consider supporting student are under knees, neck and head. To determine whether more support is called for, identify areas not in contact with the floor or otherwise continuing to hold tension. For students whose feet hang in air when knees are supported, for example, place blanket under heels. See the online Asana Digest for more.

Savasana with Blanket

Provide Warmth, Weight, Comfort

Face Down Savasana

Prone Version


Prone Variation

More Poses


Crocodile Pose

Place legs hip-width apart, toes turned out, heels in. Another option is to reach opposite shoulders rather than elbows, resting head in crook of elbows. Abdomen rests on floor; upper chest slightly elevated. See also: Yoga International article.

Viparita Karani

Legs Up the Wall – No Pelvic Support

This version, with no pelvic support, may be useful if no props are available or there is discomfort with prop. Keep hips square. Both buttocks touch wall, or if hamstrings are stretching rather than relaxing, move away from wall. Let tailbone release toward floor. Rest backs of shoulders on floor. Open chest. Options here could include a blanket under torso and roll under neck or head as appropriate for different students. If feet or legs begin to tingle or fall asleep, see if bending knees slightly helps, or come out of pose. (Baxter Bell) After releasing legs, pause before coming out completely.

Viparita Karani

Legs Up the Wall – Elevated Pelvis

This variation can be used for increasing inversion effect, for tight knees, or for intensifying back arch. Place bolster or blanket a few inches from wall. Lower height of prop is there is low back or sacrum discomfort. Sit on end of prop with side body to wall. Take inside arm to floor to roll back. Let sit bones fall away between wall & bolster. Ensure pelvis is even. You may wish to advise feet hip distance apart. To increase the restorative effect, place strap around thighs, above knees; the strap holds legs in place, allowing more release. Relax arms away from body, palms up. Close eyes.

Legs in a “V” Shape

Another variation is to release the legs into a straddle.

Viparita Karani with Chair

Supported Inversion with Chair

If there is hip, low back or leg discomfort in Legs Up the Wall, this can serve as an alternative. As with Legs Up the Wall, sit with side to chair, knees bent, feet on floor. Swing calves up to chair as hands walk torso down to floor.  Adjust closer or further away for comfort. Can also add blanket under legs and under torso or neck. May wish to place sandbag or blanket on belly.

Viparita Karani Variation

Support Hips, No Wall

Viparita Karani Variation

Another Variation