The most difficult pose in yoga (and Ashtanga)

After a recent Mysore practice, I settled myself in for a nice Savasana.

I got myself situated, still. I let my breathing relax, normalize.

And then I twitched my right shoulder. Then I scratched my left hand.


Next, I moved my hips a bit, trying to get my back more comfortable. I flexed the toes on my right foot.

It was then I realized: Savasana really is the most difficult pose in yoga and Ashtanga. (I mean as far as asanas go. Just Google “savasana hardest pose” and see what comes up, if you don’t believe me.)

I hadn’t necessarily thought through before why this was the case. (And, no, I shouldn’t have been thinking about it then, and I tried to stop myself — fairly successfully.) And I certainly haven’t figured out all the reasons why, but here are a few:

  • Unlike every other pose, where you can stretch and strain (in a controlled way) yourself toward the “perfect pose,” Savasana is the absence of all that. I think it is easier to hold yourself still or firm than to relax yourself into the same position.
  • Because you aren’t supposed to be moving, any movement is a clear “fail.” Whereas if you move in another pose, it might be because you are getting closer to having it “right.”
  • Once you “fail” once, it’s contagious. “Oh, my ear itches. I’ll just really quickly scratch it. Ah, the side of my nose, too. Then I’ll be still.”
  • It’s, quite simply, quite the 180 degree turn. You’ve been moving steadily for 75 or 90 minutes, or so, and suddenly, one last jump through and, boom! Time to be still.
  • Note: I haven’t written anything about the main reason: all the vritti in the chita. Yes, there’s that, too.

Now, I also know that I’m particularly bad at relaxing and being still. But, going back to that Google search, I’m obviously not alone.

Are there reasons why it’s so hard that I’ve missed?

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

2 thoughts on “The most difficult pose in yoga (and Ashtanga)”

  1. I practically fall asleep in this pose. I like the stillness. My hardest part is finding a resting place for my arms that feels right. I think I’m so used to tucking them behind my head or clasping them on my stomach when I rest, that to have them at my side, unengaged, can be hard.

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