A (flat) twist on an old favourite

I love savasana. Practicing it. Teaching it. Evangelising about it.

Feel your feet pressing into the wall - Laura lying on a grey yoga mat with the soles of her feet against a white wall

And after more than two decades practicing yoga and loving corpse pose, I’ve discovered a new way to lie flat on my back. Pressing the soles of my feet against a wall has brought a new twist to this old practice—and given me a newfound appreciation for the possibilities of the pose.

Why do I love savasana?

Corpse pose allows me to retreat, to disconnect, resting secure in the knowledge that the world will continue spinning while I am still. As I wrote eight years ago, it’s where the magic happens. It gives me space from my thoughts, a means to detach from my spinning mind.

Savasana and other restorative poses are teaching us to let the body rest, but the mind watches.

Judith Hansen Lasater,
interviewed by Juliana Mitchell in ‘The Body Rests, The Mind Watches

Finding footing

I stumbled across the feet-against-the-wall variant in a ‘reset your pelvis’ yoga sequence. My right hip and low back had been giving me some trouble and the usual poses I turn to for relief weren’t doing it.

One online resource suggested bracing the feet against a wall to perceive any discrepancies between the hips and legs. After the initial novelty of having my feet perpendicular to the mat in corpse pose (they so often flop out at an angle), I settled in to the experience of having ‘ground’ beneath my feet.

In addition to bringing the differences between my right and left sides into focus, the wall also brought a sense of security. I felt anchored, grounded, safe. And after just a few minutes, I stopped noticing the newness of being flat-footed and simply enjoyed resting deeply.

Experience supported-foot savasana

I’m teaching a virtual yin yoga class at the end of this week (Friday, September 25th) and I’m planning to start the session with a body scan in corpse pose—with the feet resting against a wall, obviously.

The class happens live on the last Friday of the month from 8-9:15 pm European time (see what that is in your timezone) with the recorded session available throughout the weekend if that works better for your schedule.

Or follow the guidance below to get yourself into the flat-footed variation of savasana on your own… not that it’s hard to figure out!

Savasana, the flat-footed variation

Unsurprisingly, incorporating a flat surface (a wall, a door, perhaps even the edge of a couch) into corpse pose is pretty easy.

How to do it

  • Place the short edge of a yoga mat next to a wall
  • Lie face-up on the mat with the soles of your feet against the wall
  • Readjust your legs until your feet, knees, and hips are perfectly comfortable
    —for some people a wider stance feels better, for others, having the feet closer together is nicer
    —experiment until you find your perfect position
  • Rest your arms alongside your body, letting your palms face up to avoid stimulating your fingertips
    —or place your palms face down on your abdomen, resting your elbows away from your body on the floor to relax your shoulders
  • Tuck your chin in slightly to elongate the back of your neck
  • Close your eyes if it’s comfortable or allow your gaze to grow soft
  • Keep adjusting your position until you’re perfectly settled
  • Bring your focus to your breath, feeling your natural inhalations and exhalations, noticing the rise and fall of your abdomen
  • Notice the pressure of your soles against the wall
    —observe the positioning of your feet, legs, hips relative to each other
    —acknowledge any differences between your right and left sides, trying to do so without any judgement about which is ‘better’
  • Feel balance in your body
  • Rest for as long as you’d like, enjoying the stillness of your savasana

Now for a 60-second demo…

If you try out this variation on the traditional savasana, let me know how it goes! I’ve come back to the flat-footed variation many times since discovering it, although I still default to having my feet unsupported. Perhaps that’s because my hip and low back are feeling better, or maybe I revert to my default setting after years and years of ‘normal’ savasana—whatever the case, I’m glad to have a new variation in my relaxation repertoire.

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