Yoga for Chronic Illness: Corpse Pose

I only bought it because I was desperate. “Power Yoga for Happiness” was only $14.99, and I had just wasted almost $300 on a cleanse that did absolutely nothing except leave trails of strange protein mixes all over my kitchen. Yoga seemed like a better investment in bringing back some of my energy. I tried out the thirty minute routine first, and while I was surprised at how challenging some of the sequences were, I got my first ‘yoga high’ and never went back.   I later learnt that ‘power’ (or, asthanga) yoga was probably not the best to start out with for CFS and began practicing Yin, restorative and hatha yoga more regularly. When I began feeling better I started to go to more rigorous yoga classes. The classes would get packed at my favourite studio, but most people weren’t so into the meditative aspects of yoga as they were the fitness aspects. While the flow classes would fill up before class started, the bi-weekly yin class would barely see 5 or 10 students.

At the end of a flow class, when going into shavasana, or corpse pose, we were allowed to remain in pose in the studio for as long as we liked. Most of the class would get up and leave as soon as the instructor had finished. It was only a few of us who would stay that extra 5 or 10 or 15 breaths and really let the practice fall from us.

Shavasana is an especially important pose for chronic fatigue, because it is the pose that allows your body to rest and restore itself after an hour of stretching and bending and strengthening. It mirrors the rest we need to take during our daily lives after a day at work, or running errands or coking a meal. It unleashes the power of doing nothing- and being okay with it. You don’t need any excuses, you don’t need to feel guilty, you don’t need to worry about all the things you are going to do next. You just need to be. Your mind can relax as your body ‘does its thing restoring itself.

The best thing about shavasana is that it requires no energy. You can always roll onto your back, let your legs roll out to the side, and just be.  Many people feel they can cut it or rush through it as part of their practice- after all, you aren’t stretching or toning anything, but for me a practice would not feel complete (or as good) without a nice long shavasana at the end!

 

shavasana

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7 thoughts on “Yoga for Chronic Illness: Corpse Pose

  1. This post is great timing! I’m just drafting up a post about techniques to reduce stress and increase focus in 15 minutes or less. This is one of the poses that I’m mentioning in the post. I’m hoping to get the post out tomorrow or later this week, depending on my energy levels.
    I love lying in Shavasana for longer at the end of my yoga practice. I really feel a lot better after lying there for a while. I do yoga for both the fitness and the meditative aspect. Before I was sick I’d love doing a 30 minute or longer session, now I manage 5 minutes of flowing poses before lying in Shavasana for 20 minutes.

  2. Love, love, love this pose. I like it when I’m talked through the body by a teacher and feel each part relax, deeply. Yoga Nidra is especially nice in this pose 🙂

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