Welcoming Death with Corpse Pose
Death is a topic that many of us prefer to avoid. It represents the unknown and while most of us recognize its inevitability, to speak about it or celebrate it openly can feel like you’re wishing it upon yourself prematurely. This resistance to accepting one of life’s necessary cycles does us a disservice, blinding us to the gifts of releasing and letting go.
For none of us experiences only one death in our lives. Whether we are talking about those we love transitioning to the other side(s); phases, beliefs, or habits that we’ve outgrown; or even the passing of one day into the next, death is part of our everyday lives.
The yoga pose savasana is one way that we can start to become friendly with death. It is the final resting pose that typically concludes a yoga class, when students are instructed to lie still on their mats in the position of a corpse, tune out any crowded thoughts, deepen their breath, and relax. It sounds simple, but doing nothing is a struggle for many.
This ritual includes an extended corpse pose that will help you recognize what needs to be released and let it go with as much grace and ease as possible.
Time commitment: 15-20 minutes
Xaga Chakrub or black crystal of your choosing
Journal and pen
To begin, unfold your yoga mat in a space where you will not be disturbed. Place your Xaga Chakrub or a black crystal at the top of your mat. Imagine that it is serving as a tool of protection and drawing down wisdom from your ancestors or past lives.
You might like to start this ritual with a simple restorative yoga practice to prepare your body for the resting pose of savasana and to see what comes up around the themes of release and death. Here is a simple sequence that’s appropriate for yogis of all levels.
As you flow, try to stay present with your body and clear your mind as much as possible. If a thought starts to creep up, you can use words like “death” “release” or “let go” to interrupt your mind and return to your practice. Observe where your mind goes when you think these words, but try not to judge or become attached to these thoughts.
After you have finished your practice, lie down on your back with your arms at your side and your legs wider than your shoulders, but still within your mat. Position yourself so that your Xaga Chakrub or black crystal is above your head where your crown chakra resides. As you settle into the space, imagine that your crystal is preparing to share with you the wisdom that came up during your practice.
Relax every part of your body. If you have trouble quieting your mind, this can be a good way to distract yourself. You can start at your crown, saying in your mind, “Now I am relaxing my scalp. Now I am relaxing my forehead, my eyebrows, my cheeks, my nose, my jaw, my mouth…” and working your way down your body.
You don’t need to think about or try to release anything. Simply accept that by lying still and clearing your mind, the unwanted energy is given space to exit peacefully and without struggle. This also creates a space for you to receive any messages that want to come through your crystal.
After lying in savasana for at least five minutes or as long as you like, roll over onto one side, mimicking a fetal position. Affirm to yourself that you have been reborn in some way. Use both of your hands to slowly rise and assume a cross-legged position with a straight back. Take your Chakrub into your hands and bring it to your third eye. Then lower it so that it’s resting against the center of your chest, thereby bringing the mind’s wisdom down into the heart and the body.
With your Chakrub still against your heart, bow your head and thank yourself for taking the time and space to invest in self-knowledge.
Afterwards, you are welcome to journal about what was released during your practice and any messages that came through your crystal. You might list a few actions that will help you commit to this death or letting go.
Feature Image by Bryan Liston