Pose of the Month April:
Gently sensing around the hips.
Spring is here! Meaning more light and more warmth, which generally makes my happy.
For this month, I chose swan pose. After having had the emphasis on the spine, I’d like to move towards the hips. This can be an area that, for me for sure, can do with a little bit of softness and space. Also, for me a very challenging pose where I need to be careful to not do harm in the long run. By doing too much and forcing the movement and the stretch it’s very possible to destabilize the SI-joint. This then creates the opposite of what were looking for, which is softness and stability. Less is more and be aware of your breath, making sure it can stay soft and fluent. A real practice in being honest towards yourself, as you’re moving in the shape, while being in it and the after effect.
How to practice
Fold the 2 blankets as is shown in the picture.
How to fold blankets (it’s a thing..):
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 picture (approx.70×25 cm).
Place the folded blankets 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.
Do less, don’t stretch, support yourself.
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. This will stabilize your knee. Then place your 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. With the upperleg resting on the left blanket, lower leg on the top blanket.
Now slowly lengthen 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. Feel free to support that leg.
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).
Be comfortable and enjoy!
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 and SI-joint 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 don’t soften, 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 too many muscles after they have been passive for so long. Gently activate your body first to warm it up again.
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.
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.