Sleeping Swan Pose

Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Sleeping Swan Pose Mean?

Sleeping swan pose is the name of a restful hip-opening posture in Yin yoga. The pose is basically a half split in which one leg reaches back so the top of the foot presses into the ground, and the opposite leg is folded in front of the body, with the calf on the ground. The yogi then folds forward, letting the head and arms rest on the ground.

By appearance, it is the same posture known as the resting variation of pigeon pose or downward-facing pigeon in other forms of yoga such as Hatha and Ashtanga. The Sanskrit name, adho mukha kapotasana, also describes this pose. There is, however, a distinct difference in the practice of the pose in Yin yoga.

Yin Sleeping Swan Pose


Yogapedia Explains Sleeping Swan Pose

Yin yoga poses are held for a longer time than their counterparts in other styles of yoga – anywhere from three minutes up to fifteen minutes. If new to sleeping swan, the yogi should practice it for no more than three to five minutes. The purpose in Yin yoga is to target connective tissues rather than just the muscles, so the postures are passive rather than being actively meant to engage the muscles.

In addition to opening the hips, sleeping swan pose stretches the ligaments and tendons in the legs, knees, shoulders and back. The pose activates the gallbladder, stomach, spleen, liver and kidney meridians, or energy channels, thereby supporting healthy muscles and vision and preventing fatigue, dizziness and vertigo.

Yogis with knee, hip or lower-back problems should skip sleeping swan pose.

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