Swan - Overview
Beginner: The Swan Sequence is a beautiful and graceful practice that poses some challenges for the beginner yogi. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed as you think of lifting through the chest and lengthening through the spine. Only go as far into each pose as you comfortably can. The link is third eye opening: a call for clarity of thought, insight and wisdom. On an inhale breath, place the fingertips of both hands evenly on the center of your forehead, just above your eyes. From this place, extend your arms and hands up and on exhale, glide them down and back to center.
Advanced: Swan is an elegant and graceful sequence for the advanced yogi. Enjoy the deep hip flexor stretches, and remember to focus on squaring the hips in each pose. Extend through all points of the body and move smoothly with breath. The third eye opening breath-body link allows for calming and clearing the mind while attaining a focus on making space within yourself for postive intent through releasing negative energy.
Beginner: Cat rolling is fantastic for beginners to gently massage and envigorate the spine. On inhale, let the belly hang low and lift through the chest. On exhale, pull the abdominals in, and roll through the spine.
Advanced: Advanced yogis can continue to build grace and fluidity with cat rolling. Push through the hands and keep your arms super straight in cat lift. Are your shoulders away from your ears? Tailbone should be lifting and feel active. The energy shifts in cat pose. Apply udiana bandha and think of completely rounding the back from front to back and side to side also.
Downward Dog Pose
Beginner: Beginners benefit from downward facing dog as it stretches the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, right down to the arches of your feet! Don't worry if you cannot straighten your legs in this pose, it will come with time. For now, focus on keeping the back super flat and your knees deeply bent. Begin to push the legs straight while the back stays flat, opening into the tight hamstring muscles. If you have wrist problems, be very mindful of any pain you feel in this posture.
Advanced: To deepen in downward facing dog, the advanced practitioner can focus on sinking into the heels and lifting the tail bone. Keep your arms super-straight and energize the palms of the hands and fingers.
Swan Lift Pose
Beginner: Swan pose can be challenging for the beginning yogi as it is a deep hip opening pose. Be gentle with yourself, and go no further than your hip and groin muscles can afford. While you are learning this posture, you can put a block or towel under the hip of the front leg. The aim is to keep the hips even so give your body the support it needs to express the pose.
Advanced: Swan pose is a graceful and elegant posture for the advanced yogi. Tuck your tail slightly and lift the chest. Keep lifting from the back of the head and the shoulders. Your hips are level - beautiful. Now, can you pull belly to spine on the exhale? Focus on lifting the chest, not compressing the spine. Arms are straight, gaze is lifted slightly. Feel the serenity of this pose.
One-Legged Downward Dog Pose
Beginner: Beginners should move into this pose with care. Hands should be evenly placed with weight evenly distributed across both hands and all fingers. However high you can raise your lifted leg is fine. Modify the pose by bending the knee of the grounded leg to relieve tension in the hamstrings.
Advanced: Continue to advance in one-legged downward dog by working to sink the heel fully to the ground while staying energized and strong in the hands and upper body. Engage mulah bandha in this pose and really reach through all the way through the foot of the extended leg.
Beginner: If you have any difficulty with pigeon pose, beginners should consider using a pillow or rolled towel under and/or behind the knee to protect this delicate joint. Keep your shoulders dropped and chest lifted, hands gently along the ground for balance.
Advanced: The advanced yogi sinks easily into pigeon pose. Focus on tucking the tail under as you lift through the chest and front of the body. With the arms extended overhead, you can really energize the body and get a wonderful stretch through the entire front of your torso.