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Swan Pose

Swan Pose

A beloved pose for many, especially those coming from a Vinyasa practice. Swan pose is popular because of the deep release it can provide both physically and emotionally. Remember that for some, and maybe you, this pose can be hard to hold! Offer variations and encourage the principle of yin to hold the pose.

Get into Swan Pose Step-by-Step

  1. Begin in a tabletop position or downward dog.
  2. Lift and extend your right leg back
  3. Bend into your right knee and guide it to land behind your right wrist. Place your shin on an angle pointing away from your wrist.
  4. Walk your left toes back to lengthen through the left leg.
  5. Option: If there is space between your right glute and the floor use a folded blanket or block between the floor and your glute.
  6. Stay up on your hands or fold forward onto the mat or a bolster.


  • Physical: Externally rotates the front hip and stretches the glute. Compresses the lower back (when not folded forward) and stretches the psoas and hip flexor of the back leg.
  • Energetic: The Spleen, Gallbladder, Liver, Stomach, and Urinary Bladder meridians are all stimulated.
  • Emotional & Mental: It is not uncommon for swan to cause emotional release as it works deeply into the hips and thus sacral chakra. BKS Iyengar in Light on Yoga claims that swan can help control sexual desires due to the amount of blood flow in the pubic region.


  • May cause irritation in the front knee due to past injuries or tightness in the hips. Draw the front foot closer to the groin.
  • Avoid flexing the foot and bringing the shin parallel to the top of the mat. This can cause discomfort in the knee and rotate the knee cap.


  • Sleeping Swan: Fold over your front leg to lay on the ground or a bolster.
  • Reclined Swan: Otherwise known as reclined figure four or eye of the needle. Lay on your back. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh just above your knee. Stay here or pull your left leg towards your chest.
  • On the wall: Same as above but instead of pulling your leg in, place your foot on the wall.
  • Sleeping swan with back leg in: If the stretch is too intense on the hip flexor of the extended leg, sit onto the outside of the opposite glute and draw the heel of the extended leg in behind you. Fold forward over the front leg.
Sleeping swan with a block under the glute
Sleeping swan with a bolster under the torso
Sleeping swan variation

Get Out of the Pose

  1. Draw your hands under your shoulders. Lift your upper body back up.
  2. Curl your back toes and shuffle your back leg in slightly.
  3. Step back to downward dog or tabletop position.

Counter Poses

  • Downward-facing dog.
  • Option to lift your leg, bend into the knee, and draw circles with the knee.

How Long to Hold Swan?

  • 3-6 minutes per side.

Practice Swan Pose in a Class

Back to yin yoga pose directory.

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