Savasana is the ultimate yoga pose. That fact that it is simple does not make it easy. The first part of your practice is a metaphor of all things you can do and control, all "posture" you can adopt in life when facing specific situations. Savasana reflects the exact opposite.
Your entire practice is a preparation for the last pose. So far, you have stimulated the musculoskeletal system to balance tension and relaxation in the muscles. You also stimulated your cardiovascular system, increasing efficiency on transporting oxygen and nutrients to all tissues. The overlapping of stimulus has activated the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, creating waves of hormones releasing in the bloodstream. In consequence, your mind is calm and in focus. Now you are ready for Savasana.
The purpose of Savasana
There are many opinions on the importance of Savasana. In any case, all teachers agree that it is essential to the practice. The Sanskrit translation is Corpse pose. This reference to death is directly associated with acceptance. There are things in life that we cannot change, and things we need to accept. The first part of your practice is a metaphor of all things you can do and control, all "posture" you can adopt in life when facing specific situations. Savasana reflects the exact opposite. For all situations out of your control, there is nothing to do but to experience the moment without action or judgment.
Because your body is relaxed and your mind is calm, acceptance becomes more natural. However, Savasana is a challenging pose. I see many students struggling to remain in position. In my experience, there are two reasons why I could be restless during savasana:
The first one is because I couldn't drain enough energy from my body or couldn't create enough mental focus during the early stage of the practice (flow or standing poses).
The second, because I lost mental focus or didn't develop a sustained relaxing state later on the session (that is, seated poses or ground poses).
Alternatively, I find many students falling asleep during Savasana. This not only happens often but very quickly once in the pose. In Savasana, you should still be conscious. If you are sleeping, you are somehow dodging the acceptance part of the equation. In most cases, I know the students fall asleep because they are simply tired. If that is the case, you need to rest. There is no point in doing dynamic poses if your body is already tired. You should focus your practice on the later stages of the practice (that is, seated poses, ground poses or restorative poses).
As you can see, Savasana will help you to better define how your practice should be structured. Is a very accurate thermometer of your practice, telling you what to modify in the next session. Approach the pose like other relaxing poses: focus on your breath, bring your awareness to areas of tension, and observe the sensation unjudgementally.
In terms of duration, I recommend making Savasana 10 percent of the entire practice. Sometimes I like to spend much more time on it. Just trust your gut feeling.
The end of the practice
After Savasana, I recommend that to take a minute or two to wrap things up. I like to dedicate some time to compare the before-and-after of how I feel in general. You will notice significant differences in both mind and body. This is crucial to understand what feels good and what does not, that is, to create a personal definition of wellbeing.
Finally, I like to exercise gratitude. I find out that being thankful is beneficial to my emotional state. Appreciating positive experiences improves my self-esteem, makes me more empathic, and allows me to get back on my feet faster when I'm feeling down.
After closing my practice, I make sure I drink enough water. We dehydrate during the practice significantly due to deep breathing and the rise of temperature in our body. Therefore, It is important to always keep our body hydrated.
Now you understand the different stages of practice, as well as the different elements to consider when structuring a session. On the next chapter, I will summarize everything.