Yoga Svaroopa is a yoga style designed to open the body and connect with your inner self. In Sanskrit, ‘Sva’ translates to ‘self’ and ‘Roopa’ translates to ‘body’. Unlike most modern yoga practices, Svaroopa uses just four asanas; referred to as ‘The Magic Four’, these asanas open the body to release built-up tension. Creating a core opening, the postures can release tension from the deepest layers of the body. Relieving this tension allows us to feel happier and healthier in both body and mind. Unlike vigorous yoga techniques, Svaroopa can be performed without breaking a sweat. Instead of being a form of exercise, the style is known as a “scientific maximisation of our body’s natural capacities”. The style is slow and focussed, allowing practitioners to reach the deepest layers of their being. For best results, it’s important to wear flexible yoga clothes to allow the body to stretch sufficiently. In this article, we explore yoga Svaroopa in more detail.
Yoga Svaroopa includes just four poses. Known as ‘The Magic Four’, these poses are suitable for people of all ages and abilities. In a Svaroopa class, the postures will usually be repeated for a full hour to facilitate deeper stretching. However, if you are strapped for time, the sequence can be practised in as little as 15 minutes. This makes Yoga Svaroopa easy to fit in before or after work, or even during a lunch break!
The Magic Four poses include all five directions of movement. Through a collection of forward-bends, back-bends, side-bends, inversions, and twists, the asanas reach every area of the body. Better still, they are simple to perform! This means that they can be practised by practitioners of all ages – even children. If you’re an experienced yogi, the sequence can be performed for the full hour; however, if you’re just starting out, you may find it better to practice for just a few minutes. To release tension in the deepest layers of the body, some of the asanas require the use of props. Slow Motion Dive and Crooked Knee Pose both require a firm chair so ensure you have one to hand before starting the sequence.
When practised correctly, the postures open the entire length of the spine. The first asana opens the muscles around the tailbone, the second posture continues the stretch across the lower back and into the sacrum, the third pose opens the muscles around the waist, while the fourth extends the stretch through the chest, shoulders, and neck. For best results, the se-quence should be practised in the correct order without missing any asanas. Below, we explain how to perform the Magic Four.
The first pose in the Magic Four is Slow Motion Dive. To practice this asana, sit in a firm chair with your knees apart. Place your heels directly under your knees and turn your toes inward slightly. With your buttocks touching the back of the chair, lean forward and place your elbows on your knees. Lengthen your neck and allow your head to hang forward. You are in Slow Motion Dive. Take a few minutes to relax into the pose whilst breathing deeply. If you want to increase the stretch, remove your elbows from your knees and let your hands hang close to the ground. To release the stretch, gently push yourself up using your hands or elbows. Raise your head slowly to avoid getting head rush.
The second pose in the Magic Four is Crooked Knee Pose. To perform the posture, stay in your chair with your legs together. Move your feet forward a little and place your left ankle of the opposite thigh. Keeping the groove of your left ankle on your right thighbone, draw the ankle in towards your hip. Allow your head to hang forward into the chest. Next, take a deep breath in and lift your ribs upwards. As you exhale, hinge at the waist and let your upper body hang forward. At this stage, you can either let your arms hang down or place your hands on your right knee. You are in Crooked Knee Pose. Hold the asana for 30 seconds before releasing the stretch and repeating on the opposite side. To exit the pose, use your hands to bring yourself back up – just like you did in the previous posture.
The third asana in the Magic Four is Lunge Pose. To practice the posture, begin on all fours with your back level. Ensure your hands are directly under your shoulders and your knees are aligned with your hips. Next, bring your right foot forward into the gap between your hands. Gently draw your torso towards your right leg, lengthening the spine as you do so. Finally, tuck your chin in and let your head hang forward. You are in Lunge Pose. Hold the posture for as long as it feels comfortable – around 3 minutes is a perfect time. When you are ready, release the stretch and repeat on the opposite side. To exit the asana, use your hands to push yourself back up. If you feel any pain or discomfort, release the stretch and move onto the next pose.
The final pose in the Magic Four is Reclined Spinal Twist. To perform the asana, begin by lying on your back. Draw your knees into your chest and stretch your arms alongside your body to form a “T” shape. Make sure that your palms are facing upwards. Taking a deep breath in, draw your tailbone down towards the floor. As you exhale, move both of your knees over the right and turn your head to the left. Finally, press your shoulders firmly into the mat. You are in Reclined Spinal Twist. Hold the asana for around 30 seconds before repeating on the opposite side. Before releasing the stretch, hug your arms around your knees and slowly rock from side to side. This simple technique will release the lower back.
Whether you’re suffering from pain and discomfort or you’re hoping to release built-up tension, Yoga Svaroopa can help you to achieve your goals. If you’re an experienced practitioner, the style can be performed independently. Beginners, however, may benefit from attending a weekly class. Before your first session, remember to pick up some flexible yoga pants and a comfortable mat.