What is mermaid pose?
Mermaid pose is a variation of pigeon pose, but with back flexibility and good leg mobility. This is a combo move which will help you become more flexible and open your chest forward. It is pigeon pose, but after that you will clasp your hands behind your head and go into mermaid pose where your back leg is bent and your arms are clasped over your shoulders and under your back with your back leg bent into the pose. To do this, you will first have to be able to do pigeon pose.
How do you do mermaid pose?
You will first have to go into pigeon pose, where one leg is bent in front of you, making your shin perpendicular to your body. You will have to sit into this pose, as it it hard to simply “go into it.” Your back leg will be completely straight behind you and your front leg will be bent in front of you. You will then clasp your hands. Whichever leg is behind you, use the hand on that side to reach under while the other hand reaches over, clasping behind your head.
Then you will bend the leg that is behind you and hook it onto the arm on that same side, making a circular shape with your arms and one leg. This pose is particularly difficult if you are not flexible, but if you are this should be a breeze. You can choose to grab onto your foot with your hands, or hook your foot around your wrist, depending on your capabilities and what you are looking for in this practice.
What does it stretch?
This pose will stretch your hip flexers as well as your arms and legs, since it is such a demanding and complicated pose. You also will be stretching your back, depending on how deep of a stretch you are looking for and how far back your body can bend.
The mermaid pose also challenges how balanced you are, since your arms are busy being clasped and you have one leg partially in the air with your hands. You will only be balancing on the front pigeon-posed leg and your quadricep on the back leg, giving you a deep stretch on all parts mentioned.
How can I modify it for my needs?
To modify this pose, you will need a block and a soft blanket. While you are going into standard pigeon pose, you can place the block or the soft blanket under your thigh, which will be the front leg making the pigeon pose. You can then take a soft blanket and place it under your knee area on the back leg, which should be straight. This modification will allow your legs some rest and relief as they go on the mermaid pose journey. Now that you have your tools, go into pigeon pose with the block under your thigh giving you support.
Go through the full pigeon pose now, and then bend your back leg. Instead of using both hands to clasp, use one hand and reach back to your foot and grab it. This pose is much easier and less strenuous, so if you are learning this pose for the first time try it this way until your flexibility’s been built up enough to remove the blanket or block you have chosen to use.
If you do choose to remove one or the other, first remove the blanket under your knee or unfold it some so you can get a deeper stretch. Once this is comfortable in the pose, switch out the block under the front leg for the blanket and this will give you an even deeper stretch while still giving you some support. Build up to doing this, as it is easy to hurt yourself if you are not completely stretched or do not have the capability to stretch that far. Once you are comfortable with the blanket, do the same thing you did with the back blanket and unfold it a little so you have a deeper stretch. Then, practice your hands clasping behind your back, as this opens up your chest and stretches the muscles in your arms.
You can do it!
Practice doing this until it feels comfortable and then incorporate it into your yoga regimen. At this point after some practice, try and go without the blankets or the blocks and see how you do. If you need it again, go for it! This is your yogi journey, so do what you need to to stay healthy and uninjured. It takes practice, but I have faith you can do it! Now that you are using it without the blankets and mats, prepare to do the full pose with the arms as well. Work with your arms and try and see how you can stretch your arms back far enough to reach your back foot when it is bent. Put one arm over the same shoulder and bend it back like you are scratching your back. Then take the other hand and go behind your back where you can reach the other hand. When do you clasp it and see how that feels, you will be able to better gage where you abilities are in this pose. Now that you have all of the tools and practice material, go out and practice the mermaid pose!
You have the ability to do endless amounts of activities with your body, and yoga is one of them. Anyone can do it, but it takes practice and modification until you can do it on your own, and that is okay. If you ask anyone who has done this pose successfully, they can say it took some practice, but they were able to do it after working on it and practicing the pose. Mermaid pose might seem like a big mountain to conquer, but it just takes time and rehearsal to be able to do it correctly. Use the tools to make it easier if you need to, and you will have a new yoga pose under your belt in no time.