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Five Excellent Alternatives to Shavasana

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Makarasana, one of the best relaxation poses in yoga.

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Shavasana is a crucial relaxation pose. It is incredibly versatile and straightforward. However, it is not your only option for ending an asana sequence. Several other easy to do poses can help you harmonise the energy you awaken with yoga. This article will look at five excellent alternatives to Shavasana that will assure profound relaxation at the end of your postural practice. 

Shavasana is excellent as a relaxation pose in between groups of poses in a yoga programme. This is because it is so easy. However, at the end of your session, it is just one of several options and it does makes sense to vary your relaxation poses anyways. Also, in many cases, Shavasana is not the pose that will give the most profound effects. 

So let’s have a look at five super helpful and beginner friendly Shavasana substitutes. 

1. Matsya Kridasana (best relaxation pose for pregnant women)

The flapping fish pose, Matsya Kridasana, is easy to do and an excellent relaxation pose. You do it lying on your belly in a slight twist. The pose can serve as the final pose in a sequence or as an independent relaxation pose. 

Matsya Kridasana is an excellent relaxation pose and a perfect alternative to Shavasana for pregnant women.
Matsya Kridasana.

Instructions

  1. Lie down on your yoga mat on your belly. 
  2. Turn your head and place your right cheek on the mat. 
  3. Place your left foot towards your right knee. Make sure it touches for the entire duration of the pose.
  4. Place your arms on the floor over your head, palms down, and the tips of your middle fingers touching.
  5. Twist your upper body to the left so that your left elbow touches your left knee. See to it that you keep the contact.

Duration

As a part of a postural yoga programme, stay for two to three minutes and then switch to the other side. As a stand-alone practice, you may stay as long as you like.

Concentration

To deepen the effect of the pose, feel your breath, your whole body or focus on the spine behind your navel, the location of Manipura chakra.

Shavasana alternative for pregnant women

Matsya Kridasana has a calming down effect. It is helpful for everyone, but it is a perfect Shavasana alternative for pregnant women. In the later stages of pregnancy, Shavasana is impossible. Matsya Kridasana can replace Shavasana even for lying down meditative practices such as Yoga Nidra.

On Forceful Tranquility

On Forceful Tranquility, you will find Matsya Kridasana as the final pose in the Balance Programme that I introduce in intermediate session three. 

2. Makarasana (perfect for breath awareness)

The crocodile pose, Makarasana, is excellent at the end of a series of yoga poses instead of Shavasana. It naturally induces relaxation to a greater extent than Shavasana. You can also use it to relieve lower back pain. 

Since it is a backward bend, it is best to use it in combination with a gentle forward bend. By putting the hare pose, Shashankasana afterwards in your practice sequence, you get a great pair of easy to do postures that will calm down your nervous system. 

Makarasana, the crocodile pose.

Instructions

  1. Lie down on your belly on your mat. 
  2. Place your elbows on the floor with your forearms in a vertical position. 
  3. Support your chin with the heels of your hands, letting your fingers touch your cheeks.

Duration

Stay in Makarasana for several minutes.

Concentration

In the crocodile pose, you have an excellent opportunity to focus on your natural breath. You will be able to feel it distinctly in your belly. Feel how each in-breath makes your belly press slightly against the floor. On each out-breath, feel your belly relaxing. Focusing on your breath in such a way will naturally guide you into a relaxed state.

On Forceful Tranquility

You will find Makarasana as the second last pose of the Intermediate Programme, which I introduce in the second foundation session. In that sequence of postures, I use the tortoise as a counterpose. 

3. Shashankasana (easy seated Shavasana alternative)

In the hare pose, Shashankasana, relaxation is achieved through a mild forward bend. This seated pose collects your energies in your belly area, inducing a sense of safety. It is perfect for ending a sequence of poses and can very well be a substitute for Shavasana. You can use the hare pose after a backwards bend or simply as a stand-alone end pose.

The hare pose, Shashankasana.

Instructions

  1. Sit on your knees in the diamond pose (vajrasana), keeping your knees together.
  2. Behind your back, take hold of one wrist with your other hand.
  3. Bend forward and place your chest on your thighs.
  4. Lower your head and if possible, rest your forehead on the ground.
  5. If necessary for balance, separate your knees slightly.

To make it easier

This pose is pretty easy for most people. However, as a beginner, you might find it overly strenuous unless you tweak it. In fact, several adjustments can make it more comfortable for you so that you can relax during the last part of your postural sequence :

  • Spread your knees more if you have a big belly.
  • Put a rolled-up blanket between buttocks and heels to ease the stretch in your thighs and make the pose softer for your knees.
  • Place a rolled-up blanket under your wrists if fully extending your feet is too much.

Alternative to the hare pose

There is a considerably more advanced pose that works in the same way as Shashankasana. It is called Yoga Mudra asana. You do it in the same way but sitting in the full lotus pose instead of the diamond pose. Yoga Mudra touches you on an even deeper plane.

Duration

Stay several minutes in the hare pose. Should you find the standard version challenging, adjust it so that you can stay for that long. 

Concentration

To amplify the benefits of the hare pose, let your attention dwell in your belly area. 

On Forceful Tranquility

In my sessions here on Forceful Tranquility, you become acquainted with the hare pose at the end of the pawanamuktasana sequence. It is the physical part of the first foundation session. 

4. Advasana (reversed Shavasana alternative)

Advasana is another great relaxation pose and an alternative to Shavasana. However, since you will be lying face down, you might not enjoy it if you have a protruding nose. In case your nose agrees, then Advasana can be the perfect Shavasana substitute if lying on the back is not possible.

Instructions

  1. Lie down on your belly with your face facing down and your forehead on your yoga mat. 
  2. Extend your arms over your head and rest your palms on the floor. 

Duration

Practice Advasana for several minutes. 

Concentration

Focus on your natural breath or practice body awareness.

5. Jyestikasana (more relaxing than Shavasana)

Jyestikasana is Sanskrit, and it means the superior pose or the best pose. It is my favourite lying down posture because of how easily it triggers the relaxation response. It is so reposing that you can quickly doze off. While staying in Jyestikasana, you can feel how the benefits of your practice spread in your body and beyond. You get the effect by lying down on your belly in a position that requires no effort whatsoever and by interlacing your fingers over your head. 

Instructions

  • 1. Lie down flat on your belly. 
  • 2. Place your right cheek on the mat.
  • 3. Interlace your hands over your head, covering your left ear. 

Duration

Practice Jyestikasana for two minutes or more to each side.

Concentration

During Jyestikasana, focus on the feeling of letting go or follow the natural breath. 

On Forceful Tranquility

I use Jyestikasana in my online yoga sessions here on Forceful Tranquility. It is introduced in the Back Programme in the fifth foundation session.

Key Takeaways

Shavasana is good as the final pose in an asana sequence. However, other alternatives have an even more profound impact while remaining accessible for most. It makes sense to alternate between different relaxation poses for a varied practice. In this post, I have given you instructions for five Shavasana alternatives. Start using them today.

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Hi, I am Christian Möllenhoff

Christian Möllenhoff is an experienced yoga and meditation teacher as well as a teacher trainer. He is from Sweden, but he lives and teaches in France. He is the driving force behind Forceful Tranquility.

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