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Mermaid Pose

Mermaid Pose

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    The Mermaid Pose, also known as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, is a beautiful and graceful advanced yoga pose that demands flexibility, strength, and balance. This pose is a variation of the Pigeon Pose, with an added quad stretch and backbend, making it a comprehensive pose that works on multiple areas of the body simultaneously.

    It’s a relatively recent addition to the yoga repertoire, often seen in Vinyasa and Power yoga classes. The pose begins from a Pigeon Pose, then involves bending the back leg, reaching back with one arm to hold the foot, and extending the other arm overhead to clasp hands, creating a deep, heart-opening stretch.

    Practicing the Mermaid Pose should be done under the supervision of a certified yoga instructor, as it is a complex pose that requires proper alignment and technique to prevent injury. It’s a challenging pose that not only enhances physical strength and flexibility but also promotes a sense of balance and calmness when performed correctly.

    Pose Details

    Difficulty LevelIntermediate
    Sanskrit Name and PronunciationEka Pada Rajakapotasana (eh-KAH pah-DAH rah-jah-kah-poh-TAHS-uh-nuh)
    Pose TypeHip Opener, Backbend

    How to Do the Mermaid Pose

    1. Start in a Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) with your right knee bent in front of you and your left leg extended behind you.
    2. Bend your left knee and reach your left arm behind you, catching hold of your left foot or ankle.
    3. Slowly begin to rotate your left elbow towards the sky, allowing your left foot to slide into the crook of your left elbow.
    4. Extend your right arm towards the sky, then bend at the elbow to reach behind you, aiming to clasp your fingers or touch your palms together.
    5. Lift your chest and gaze upwards, creating a gentle backbend. Keep your core engaged and your hips square to the front of your mat.
    6. Hold the pose for a few breaths, then gently release your hands and lower your left leg to exit the pose.
    7. Return to Pigeon Pose before repeating the Mermaid Pose on the left side.

    Muscles Worked

    Upper Body:Deltoids, Rotator Cuffs, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major, Biceps, Triceps
    Core:Rectus Abdominis, Obliques, Transverse Abdominis
    Back:Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids
    Glutes:Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus
    Legs:Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Adductors, Gastrocnemius, Soleus


    While there are many research-backed mental and physical benefits of yoga, there are few — if any — official studies on the mermaid pose. However, it’s generally believed that practicing the mermaid pose provides several health benefits.

    Improves Flexibility

    The Mermaid pose requires a combination of hip, shoulder, and spine flexibility. Practicing this pose can help increase flexibility in these areas over time.

    Builds Strength

    The Mermaid pose requires a significant amount of lower body and core strength to hold the pose. Practicing this pose can help build strength in the legs, hips, and core muscles.

    Increases Balance

    The Mermaid pose involves balancing on the lower body, which can help improve balance and coordination.

    Opens the Hips and Shoulders

    The deep hip opening and shoulder extension aspect of this pose helps to open the hips and shoulders, which can help improve posture and breathing.

    Promotes Relaxation

    The Mermaid pose requires focus, balance, and strength, which can help calm the mind and promote relaxation.

    Drawbacks and Risks

    The Mermaid Pose is a challenging yoga pose that requires a high degree of flexibility, strength, and balance. It’s important to practice this pose under the guidance of a qualified instructor to ensure proper alignment and technique, and to avoid injury.

    Potential risks of the Mermaid Pose include potential injuries to the:

    Hips. The Mermaid Pose requires a deep hip opening. If the hips are not flexible enough or not aligned properly, there is a risk of injury to the hip joint or the muscles surrounding the hip.

    Lower Back. The backbend aspect of the Mermaid Pose can strain the lower back if not performed with proper alignment. It’s important to keep the core engaged, and the lower back extended, rather than rounded, to avoid strain on the lower back.

    Knees. The Mermaid Pose involves bending one leg behind the body and reaching for it with the same-side hand. If the knee is not aligned properly, there is a risk of strain or injury to the knee joint.

    Shoulders. The Mermaid Pose involves reaching one arm overhead and bending it backward to grasp the foot or ankle of the bent leg. If the shoulder is not strong enough or not aligned properly, there is a risk of injury to the shoulder joint or the muscles surrounding the shoulder.

    Wrists. The Mermaid Pose involves supporting some of your body weight on one hand, which can put a strain on the wrist joint if not performed with proper alignment. It’s important to keep the wrist in a neutral position and avoid hyperextending the joint.

    If you experience discomfort or pain while practicing this pose, stop immediately, modify it, or come out of it. It’s also important to warm up properly before attempting this pose and gradually build up to its full expression.

    Common Mistakes

    Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when practicing the Mermaid pose.

    • Not Warming Up. Similar to the Wild Thing pose, it’s crucial to warm up before attempting the Mermaid pose. This can include yoga practices such as sun salutations, hip openers, and other poses that help warm the hips, thighs, and core muscles.
    • Forcing the Hip Open. The Mermaid pose requires a deep hip opening. However, forcing the hip open can lead to strain or injury. It’s important to listen to your body and only go as far as it comfortably allows.
    • Misaligning the Knee. The Mermaid pose involves bending one leg behind the body. If the knee is not aligned properly, there is a risk of strain or injury to the knee joint. Ensure that your knee is directly behind your hip, not out to the side.
    • Neglecting the Core. While the focus may be on the hips and legs, it’s important to keep the core engaged throughout the pose. This helps maintain balance and stability, and also protects the lower back.
    • Not Using Props. If you’re new to the Mermaid pose or have limited flexibility or strength, it can be helpful to use props such as blocks or straps to support the body and help you find proper alignment.
    • Ignoring the Breath. Breath is a crucial part of any yoga pose, but it’s especially important in challenging poses like the Mermaid. Forgetting to breathe can create tension in the body, making the pose more difficult and less beneficial. Always remember to breathe deeply and evenly throughout the pose.

    Modifications and Variations

    If you’re new to the Mermaid Pose or have limited flexibility or strength, several modifications can help you build up to the full expression of the pose. Here are some modifications to try:

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    Use Props

    If you’re having trouble reaching your foot or ankle in the Mermaid Pose, you can use props such as blocks or blankets to support your body and help you find proper alignment. Place the blocks or blankets under your hand or foot to help lift your body off the ground. This can make the pose more accessible and comfortable.

    Practice on Your Knees

    If you have trouble holding the Mermaid Pose on one foot, you can try practicing on your knees. Place your hands on the ground and lift one leg, reaching for your ankle or foot. This modification can help you build strength and stability in the pose.

    Practice with a Wall

    If you’re having trouble finding balance in the Mermaid Pose, try practicing with a wall for support. Place your hands on the wall and lift one leg off the ground, reaching for your ankle or foot. This modification can help you find stability and build confidence in the pose.

    Practice the Pigeon Pose

    The Pigeon Pose can help stretch and strengthen the hip muscles, preparing you for the Mermaid Pose. Start in Downward-Facing Dog, then bring your right knee forward and place it on the ground near your right hand. Slide your left leg back and point your toes, your heel is pointing up towards the ceiling. This pose can help you build the flexibility needed for the Mermaid Pose.

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    Disclaimer: The information on this website is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment before undertaking a new healthcare regimen.
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