Learn Yoga with the Corpse Pose

Edited by HealthNut, Eng, VisiHow

The Corpse Pose, or as it is sometimes called Mrtasana, where mrta means death, is a very basic yoga move that most beginners should be able to master with relative ease. Being able to master this pose should help calm the brain, which helps to relieve stress and is thought to help with bouts of mild depression. The pose relaxes the whole body, which is useful in both warming up before yoga and cooling down after a session to prevent damage to the muscles. Mastering the pose is thought to help reduce headaches or at least make them occur less frequently and also to reduce tiredness and prevent insomnia. It can also be used to lower blood pressure.

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However, if you suffer from a chronic back injury or if lying in the position causes you discomfort in your back, then limit your use of this pose. If you are pregnant, you can still try to master this pose; however, it is recommended you raise your head and chest on some kind of bolster, either a cushion or a rolled up blanket, to keep the pressure off these areas when breathing in the pose.

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What equipment will you need to get started?

  • Though this pose can be performed anywhere, it is recommended that you have a yoga mat, as it cushions the spine while trying the pose.
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  • Some stretchy yoga trousers.
  • A baggy shirt or a vest which allows for maximum arm movement while you exercise.

Corpse Pose Step-by-step:

  1. 1
    Follow our article on how to warm up for yoga.
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  2. 2
    In this pose, you must try to keep your body in as neutral a position as possible
    To start, sit down on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. You should be leaning back on your forearms. Raise your pelvis so it is levitating slightly above the floor and then use your hands to push your pelvis towards your coccyx before letting the pelvis drop to the floor again.
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  3. 3
    Breathe in and extend your legs, first one and then the other, making sure you stretch through your heels as you're doing it
    When you release this stretch, you should be able to feel your groin area relaxing and that your legs are slightly wider than your hips. Let your feet relax to the sides slightly and then clench the front of your pelvis for a moment before letting it relax once again.
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  4. 4
    Using your hands, raise the base of your skull away from your neck and push the back of the neck towards the coccyx
    If this is difficult for you to do, then you can make a support for the back of your neck from a blanket or a cushion. Widen the base of your skull as well and try to lift the crease in your neck so it is diagonally along the centre of your head. Try to ensure that your ears are an equal distance from your shoulders on both sides.
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  5. 5
    Stretch your arms up towards the sky
    This should make them sit perpendicular to the floor. Move from side to side slightly and stretch out your back, ribs and shoulder blades away from your spine. Allow the arms to lie back on the floor so they are slightly away from your torso. Rotate your arms and stretch them out away from your shoulder blades and then rest your hands on the floor, getting them as close as you can to your index finger knuckles. Ensure your shoulders are resting evenly on the floor so your weight is spread properly. Then, picture the lower edges of your shoulder blades lifting diagonally into your back and towards the top part of your sternum. Spread your collarbones out after this.
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  6. 6
    As well as good at relaxing your body physically, Corpse Pose is also good at relaxing your sense organs
    First, relax the back of your tongue and the sides of your nose. Then, continue to relax the insides of your ears and the skin on your forehead, paying particular attention to your eyebrows and the bridge of your nose. Relax your eyes into the back of your head before letting them watch your heart. Push your brain into the back of your head.
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  7. 7
    You can stay in this pose for quite some time
    However, it is recommended that you spend about five minutes in this pose for each half an hour of yoga practice you do. To get out of this pose, roll onto one side as you breathe out and then take two or three more breaths. When you exhale on the final breath, push your hands into the floor and lift your chest first and then your head. Be sure to always bring your head up last.
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  8. 8
    Follow our article on how to cool down after yoga
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Variations on this pose:

  • If you are suffering from a back injury and still wish to try out the pose, then you can try it by keeping your knees bent constantly with your feet on the floor. You can also choose to bind your thighs so they stay parallel to each other with a yoga strap. However, take care when using the strap so you don't put the heels of your feet too close to your buttocks.
  • When you perform the Corpse pose, normally your legs will be turned outwards. However, if you're using this pose in a cool-down sequence after a session of poses that have the legs turned outwards, for example, in many standing poses, you can also do this pose with the legs turned inwards. Grab a strap and make a small loop in it. Sit on the floor and bend your knees slightly. Put the loop of the strap over your big toe and then lie on your back, turning your thighs inward and sliding your heels apart. The loop in the strap will allow you to keep your legs turned inwards as you carry out the pose.
  • Once you have mastered Corpse Pose, you can improve the relaxation of your brain. Find a block and a sandbag that weighs about five kilograms. When you are lying down on the floor, put the block above your head so the block is on one of its sides and one of the ends slightly touching the crown of your head. After that lay the sandbag half on the block and half-touching the top of your head. Push your forehead skin down and towards your eyebrows and then relax the brain away from the weight.
  • You may be struggling with this pose, as some people find it difficult to stretch out the thighs and relax the groin muscles. If this happens, it can create a tension in the body and confine the breathing potential you have. If you can, get hold of two sandbags that each weigh about five kilograms and put one on each of your thighs. Then, picture the tops of your thighs moving away from this weight and down to the floor and this should help you relax those muscles.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Categories : Sports

Recent edits by: Eng, HealthNut

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