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To take savasana, and relax in yoga, the correct position is the to lie on the floor, or a mat, on your back, with your arms enough distance away from your body so that they are not touching your sides (the further the arms are away from the body the more room the shoulders and shoulder blades have to relax and fall to the floor). The legs are also kept far enough apart so that they are not touching each other anywhere on the inside i.e. the inner thighs. When the limbs are not touching each other, or the main part of the body, the sense of touch on the skin is not stimulated. This disturbs the brain less, as the nerve endings on the skin are not in contact with anything. Tightness i.e. keeping the body very “close” and tensed, is a sort of protection, and a lack of trust in people and in life itself. When you let your body become a little looser, you are putting away those fears and sub-conscious patterns – and giving peace a chance to enter your being.

In relaxation, the eyes are very gently closed, the eyeballs kept still, and the muscles of the face relaxed – most importantly the jawbone. The jawbone nerve and muscle is to do with speech. When you lie down with the jawbone kept even slightly tensed (i.e. the mouth closed completely) a signal is still being sent to the mind, that speech is imminent, or that you are ready to speak (because the nerves are kept contracted). In that mode, the mind remains engaged because it feels that the mouth is on “stand-by”, and so it will keep itself alert and active in its analysis / planning / memory mode. But when the muscle of the jawbone is completely relaxed (evidenced by no connection with the upper and lower teeth, a slight drop in the jaw and no touching of the upper and lower lips), the mind switches off from stand-by mode, and goes into “off” mode. Thus, the mind feels it is time to switch off the communicative part of its faculty and rest. The mouth nerve also controls the inner speech (mind’s voice) faculty. When this nerve is nicely disengaged in relaxation by lowering the jaw and parting the lips (as described above), the inner-voice (which is normally randomly functioning just before relaxation) quietens down completely.

Coming back to the hands and feet, the reason that the palms are turned upwards, apart from the relaxing the sense of touch, is that it signifies openness. The hands are an extension on the heart. Stress and closure to feeling render the hands crossed, pressed downwards, or turned downwards. But to turn the palms upwards signifies that the student is open to accepting peace from the universe (the pervading omnipotent external energy) and is also willing to give (as to give is also done with open hands and open heart).

The feet are also important if a little less significant. The ankles are the main area here. They should consciously be kept soft, and the feet should be allowed to roll out to their respective sides with no tension. The feet being relaxed means that everything from the hip downwards must also be relaxed (because you can’t relax an extremity without releasing everything that leads up to it). So logic tells you that if the extremities of the body (i.e. head, hands, and feet) are relaxed, the rest of the body must also be.

This pose is generally the best initial setup for a relaxation; from here it is down to the teachers’ technique in guiding you into your deeper states.