Pose of the Month February:
Sensing the pulsation of the breath in the back of the body.
The year has started, blue monday has past, so it’s only going to get better (I hope). Depending on where you are it might have been cold, but 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, so you might want to keep your face in the same direction as your knees. 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 movement and space in the back of the body.
How to practice
Place a bolster lengthwise on our mat. You can place a blanket on top of the bolster, in the crease of the hips, to support the belly if needed. Bring your left hip against the bolster, knees facing towards the 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 back 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. Activate your feet 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.
Be comfortable and enjoy!
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. Make sure your elbows are supported. 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 exhale and slowing it a little.
Use the breath to create a sense of space and softness on the inhalations and allow the body to let go 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.
This is a great pose to practice pranayama
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. Stay here for about 5 breaths to allow the neck to relax. 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.
If you enjoy these kinds of practices, check out my online self-guided journeys. I’ve recorded The Art of Not-Doing restorative packs for you. With these packs you can chose which 20 min restorative practice you want to practice. It also included separate audios with a different guidance once you’re in the pose, to vary the practice.
You can find them here in the shop.