February; Sleeping mermaid
The year has started, it’s has been cold and fortunately the days are getting longer. Time for the shortest month of the year. For February I chose Sleeping mermaid. I find this a very comfortable and relaxing twist, although you do have to make sure the neck and lower back feel ok. But if they are, it’s a great pose to draw your attention inward and notice the spine move with the breath and thus feeling breath and space in the back of the body.
You will need:
How to; sleeping mermaid
Place a bolster lengthwise on our mat. You can place a blanket on top of the bolster to support the belly if needed. Bring your left hip against the bolster, knees facing right. The lower leg at a 90 degree angle with the bolster and the top ankle resting in the arch of the lower foot. Place the hands on either side of the bolster. Activate the feet by lifting the toes up, as if you are standing on the floor. This will stabilise the lower back and sacrum area when you twist (maybe try whether you can feel movement in your lower ack as you activate the feet). Lengthen the spine on an inhale and twist and bring your upper body towards the bolster on an exhale. You can either have your face turned towards the knees, or if it’s comfortable for your neck, turn your face away from your knees. You can turn your head back at anytime if you feel discomfort by exhaling deeply and on an inhale, with the chin towards the chest to keep the neck long, turn your head towards the direction of your knees again.
Once you are in the twist, relax the feet and allow the body to be supported on the bolster/blanket. Make sure the whole body is supported, using more blankets, or even bolsters if needed. Take a few breaths and if you feel that there is more space, you can deepen the twist. Do this by first activating the feet again, pushing yourself up a bit on an inhale and twist deeper and release down on an exhale. Soften your body by bringing the attention towards the breath and deepening it a little.
Use the breath to create a sense of space on the inhalations and allow the body to soften and relax into the support of the bolster on the exhalations. If it is comfortable for you in this moment, you can practice pranayama where you lengthen the breath. First, trying 3 counts for the inhale and 6 for the exhale. Allow the breath to flow around your whole ribbasket. If this is comfortable you can also try a 4 count inhale and 8 count exhale. You can return to relaxed, effortless breathing at anytime, just explore within your breathing comfortzone.
Be present in this pose for 5-15 minutes, observing the breath, the body and the mind, applying the pranayama if that is suitable for you. Before coming out exhale deeply and on an inhale, with your chin towards the chest to keep your neck long, turn your head to face in the direction of your knees to allow the neck to relax. Stay here for about 5 breaths. Push yourself up with support of your arms and come out of the pose.
Take a few breaths in a seated position, before you turn the right hip towards the bolster, knees facing left, for sleeping mermaid on the other side.
Be comfortable and enjoy!