Spring is here! Meaning more light and more warmth, which I thoroughly enjoy. For this month, I chose swan. After the emphasis on the spine, I’d like to move towards the hips. An area that, for me for sure, can do with a little bit of softness and space. Also, a very challenging pose for me, where I need to be careful to not do too much and sort of ‘suffer’ through the time I’m in the pose. Less is more and be aware of your breath, making sure it can stay soft and fluent.
You will need:
- 2 blankets (or more)
- Chair/ bolsters
How to Swan;
Fold the blanket(s) as is shown in the picture.
How to fold blankets;
Always fold the short sides of the blanket towards each other, do this 3 or 4 times for the standard fold. Then finish by folding the long sides towards each other. Now you should have the blanket folded as is shown in the photo (approx.70×25 cm).
Place the folded blankets (or blanket and bolster) in a right angle on your mat. One along the top end of the mat, the other on the left side, as we’ll start with the left leg. The chair or bolsters can be in front of the mat, so you can reach them when you are in the pose.
To get in the pose, place your left hip/buttock on the lower end of the left blanket. Flex your left foot, as if you are standing on a flat surface (to keep your knee stable) and place you whole lower left leg on the top end blanket. Make sure you keep the foot actively flexed as you place your leg on the blanket. Your leg should now be in a 90-degree angle on the blankets, upperleg resting on the left blanket, lower leg on the top blanket. Now slowly lenghten your right leg back, as far as is comfortable, without losing the 90-degree angle of the left leg. It is ok to use another blanket to elevate the left hip/upperleg a bit more. You can use your arms to lift yourself a bit to slide the right leg back. It can either be straight back, if your body has the space to allow that, or it can be more like in the picture, where the right knee is bent to the right.
Once you’ve found the leg and hip position that is comfortable, you can relax the flexed left foot (the left leg stays in the 90-degree angle position, if it tends to slide back, just ease off with sliding the right leg back).
Look at the direction your pelvis/hips are facing and bring your upperbody in the same direction. This way your spine stays straight and doesn’t rotate, keeping the lower back comfortable. Use the chair or bolsters to support your upperbody, so that you can wholly relax and soften while you are in the pose. Be here for 5-20 minutes, breathing gently and observing the sensations in your body. Notice whether you are creating tension, in your leg, hip, shoulders, jaw or face. If you notice any tension, just breathe, bring your attention to the area and allow it to soften on your exhalations. If the sensations are too intense, just ease off and come out of the pose a little bit. Make sure that you are never in any pain, if you are, come out of the pose. Less is more and allowing the hip area to relax and soften might take a very long time.
To come out of the pose slowly move your weight more to the left buttock to make space to circle the right leg forward. This way the left leg/hip, which have just received the opening, can stay relaxed and soft. From here you can gently invite some movement back into your body if you feel like it, before moving to the other side. Don’t push yourself into a downward facing dog from swan, especially not if you’ve been in the pose for a long time. You want to keep the body soft and not engage to many muscles after they have been passive for so long.
Move the left blanket(s) to the right side, for swan with the right leg. Approach this side as if it is the first time that you are doing the pose, sensing into what you need on this side to be comfortable, it might be very different from the swan pose on the left side.
Be patient, comfortable and enjoy!