Swan & Sleeping Swan


The Swans Explained

The Swans Performed

Benefits:
  • A vigorous way to open the hips, allowing gravity to do the work
  • Strong external rotation of front hip (especially in the image shown )
  • Provides the quadriceps and hip flexors a nice stretch for the side that has the leg back
  • A moderate to strong backbend, compressing the lower back
  • Can control sexual desires due to lots of blood flowing through the pubic region [1]

Contra-indications:
  • If you have bad knees (especially any problems with the inner meniscus), watch the pressure
  • If hips are too tight, that is where the pressure will go. If this happens, bring the front foot back, more toward or under that hip.

Getting Into the Pose:
  • You can come into this pose either from Down Dog (which is more advanced) or from Cat pose (on hands and knees). Slide your right knee between your hands, lean a bit to the right, and check in with how your right knee is going to feel. If the knee is fine, flex the right foot and move it forward; if the knee feels stressed, bring the foot closer in toward the right hip. Now, center yourself so your weight is even. Try tucking the back toes under and sliding the back knee away. Do this a few times until your right buttock is on the floor or as low as it is going to get.

Alternatives & Options (Swan):
  • To protect the front knee, keep the foot flexed before coming forward.
  • Keep the weight back into the hips as you lower yourself.
  • Stay on the hands with the arms straight, or come on to the elbows.
  • You could lie on a bolster placed lengthwise under the chest.
  • If you're really flexible, try to bring the front foot forward, pull the bent knee more to the side, and lay your chest on top of the shin.
  • Other alternatives include Eye-of-the-Needle (can be done lying down, while sitting, or with one leg against the wall), Shoelace, or Square Pose.

Alternatives & Options (Sleeping Swan):
  • To protect the front knee, keep the foot flexed before coming forward.
  • Keep the weight back into the hips as you lower yourself.
  • Stay on the hands with the arms straight, or come on to the elbows.
  • You could lie on a bolster placed lengthwise under the chest.
  • If you're really flexible, try to bring the front foot forward, pull the bent knee more to the side, and lay your chest on top of the shin.
  • Other alternatives include Eye-of-the-Needle (can be done lying down, while sitting, or with one leg against the wall), Shoelace, or Square Pose.

Coming Out of the Pose:
  • Use your hands to push the floor away and slowly come up. Tuck the back toes under, plant your front paws in Down Dog position, and with a nice groan, step back to the Downward Facing Puppy. If you never liked Down Dog before, you will love it now!

Counter poses:
  • Windshield Wipers (sitting or lying down) are a nice way to internally rotate your hips
  • Child's Pose (nice if you did full Swan)
  • A Quick Down Dog before Child's Pose

Meridians & Organs Affected:
  • Liver and Kidney lines because these lines come through the inner groin; the Stomach and Spleen meridians (from the line on the top of the back leg); the Gall Bladder line on outer leg and the Urinary Bladder line through lumbar arch.

Joints Affected:
  • Hips and lower back. Make sure the knees are NOT complaining!

Recommended Hold Times:
  • This is a moderately yang posture when the chest is raised: hold one to three minutes. After a couple of minutes, switch to Sleeping Swan for another one to three minutes.

Similar Yang Asanas:
  • Proud Pigeon (Rajakapotasana).

Other Notes:
  • Come into full Swan from Sleeping Swan by walking the hands back toward the hips.
  • Full Swan is a deeper hip opener than Sleeping Swan because more weight is placed right above the front hip.
  • Full Swan can be a gentle backbend, but it can be deepened if you're really flexible by raising the arms overhead or clasping the hands behind the lower back and pulling them toward the floor.
  • Screaming Pigeon is really a yang pose, but it can be tried at the end because those muscles won't interfere with the joints being targeted. Bend the back leg, reach the hand on the same side to that heel, and pull the heel to the buttocks. [2]
  • If you are feeling it, you are doing it! If you have lost the feeling, wiggle around until you find it again. Sometimes a subtle adjustment of the legs can increase the sensation in the front hip but reduce the stretch in the quadriceps of the back leg. You can decide where your priority is today.



The above video is an extract from Using Props in Yin Yoga,
which is a 50-minute video.




1 -- Iyengar, Light on Yoga.
2 -- Or until the screaming starts.


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