The Snail Pose in Yin Yoga

The Snail Pose in Yin Yoga is a pose that requires great concentration, great relaxation and is the ultimate surrender pose.

"Always say "yes" to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say "yes"to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you." ~ Eckhart Tolle

The Snail Pose is an advanced pose and more difficult than most. It can also be a dangerous pose if you have neck, head or upper back issues. If you have never done a pose that requires you to balance on your shoulders or upper back this pose should first be attempted with a skilled yoga teacher.

Do not perform this pose if you have an ear, sinus, eye or tooth infection. Ancient tradition also warns against this pose if you are in the first few days of your menstrual cycle.

If you are not at all familiar with the Plow Pose or the Shoulder Stand, and you are in good health, click on the link in this paragraph for an illustration of how to set up the Plow Pose.

It is imperative that you always focus on keeping the back of your neck long when you attempt this pose. You can do this by slighting tucking your chin toward your chest. Do NOT turn your head in this pose, but keep your neck long and straight. If you have any trouble deeply breathing while performing this pose, or experience more than mild head or neck discomfort, discontinue the Snail Pose at once!

The Snail Pose is a strong heart, lung and intestine stimulator, and therefore is extremely therapeutic for your 3rd and 4th Chakras. Because it is an extreme pose of surrender, it also deeply stimulates your 5th Chakra at the neck and throat. Your 6th Chakra is also nourished with the rush of blood to your head!

This pose is so very therapeutic in so many ways, that it, along with the Shoulder Stand (the Yang Yoga Pose) is often called the queen of the yoga poses by many experts. I'm sure you will agree if you practice this inverted pose often and in a contemplative manner.

Start the Snail Pose lying flat on your back, with your arms beside you and your palms down. With momentum, bend your knees and swing them up and over your head while pushing down on the ground with your hands. If you are able to keep your knees straight, you can go directly into the Plow Pose, as shown below in the first picture.

Plow Pose, Start for the Snail PoseStart in the Plow Position

If you are unable to touch your toes to the ground, bring your hands to your hips to support them in the upright position, as shown. Otherwise, keep your arms straight on the ground. Try to keep the bulk of your weight on your shoulders and upper back, rather than on your neck. Don't forget to keep the back of your neck long and straight throughout the pose.

I like to hold the Plow Pose for 5-10 breaths in a Yang-like fashion, before I surrender into the Snail Pose. It helps me move with more ease into the full Snail Pose and I like noting the difference between the action of the Yang pose, followed by the release of the Yin pose. It helps me understand the paradox of action vs relaxation of my heart and soul as manifested in my muscles and joints.

Supported Hips in the Plough PoseSupport Your Hips if Your Feet Don't Touch the Ground

Breathe as deeply as you can in this position, and as you settle in, you will notice that your knees may slowly move towards the floor. Allow this sinking and surrender, as each knee moves to opposite sides of your head.

You may keep your arms on the ground, OR if you are balanced, you may bend your arms, bringing them over your head, to grasp one wrist with the other hand, to wrap around the back of your knees. This will take some balance and in order to do this you will have to be up on your shoulders like shown in the next photo below.

Yin Yoga's Snail Pose, Pranang Beach, Railay, ThailandFull Expression of the Snail Pose

Try to hold this pose for at least 3-5 minutes, unless the pose becomes too edgy or you have difficulty breathing. If you love the sensation and surrender of this pose you may hold it longer as your heart desires.

To come out of the pose, engage your abdominal muscles to protect your neck and slowly roll your hips back down to the floor. Keep your knees bent until your feet hit the floor. Breathe deeply for a few breaths, to find equilibrium before moving your body to the next position. You may wish to sway your knees back and forth a bit as well.

The Corpse Pose, or Savasana is a wonderful pose to do after the intense Snail Pose!

The Health Benefits of the Snail Pose

Opening the energy meridians of your trunk is especially therapeutic, as it is the core of your being. The heart, lungs, throat and head are stimulated with extra blood flowing freely to them while you are in this inverted body position. All of this nourishment makes for better and deeper breathing and therefore more life-force energy!

Your higher vibration chakras are stimulated in this pose, creating opening and more balanced energy flow. After doing this pose, you may feel light-headed from the additional blood supply to your head. I know of no other pose that balances your chakras quite like the "Queen Pose!"

When you hold this pose, try to release your effort as much as possible, and allow your legs to fall as much as they are able. Breathe deeply. Let your muscles go. Focus on emptying your mind and flow into the sensation of the release. Breathe more deeply.

Keep on repeating this pattern, noticing how your body begins to shift in subtle ways as you surrender more deeply the longer you hold the pose.

In Yin Yoga, you want to also find a bit of an edge of discomfort, but not so much that you are unable to continue the cycle of deep, conscious breathing.

Stay with the pose, resist the urge to fidget and remain still as much as possible. Notice if you struggle with stillness. The harder this pose is for you, the more you need it! Stay with the struggle and be mindful of you breath instead, to bring more energy, peace and awareness into your body.

If you feel like you are going to fall "over the edge," lift your knees up a bit more toward the ceiling, until you can breathe comfortably again. Stay mindful of your level of comfort, and as they saying goes, you want to go to the edge, but not over the edge.

You may invite positive affirmations into your consciousness as well, as you hold this pose. "I surrender to what is," "I deeply release all that no longer serves me," "Not my will, but Thine," and so forth.

May you find deep relaxation and surrender when you practice the Snail Pose. May you be nourished in the aliveness of your life-force energy. May you find that your home practice of Yin Yoga brings you deep consciousness and healing of your body, mind and soul! Namaste!

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