This teacher calls this exercise the basic Swan but Body Control call it the DIAMOND PRESS, different name but the same exercise. It’s fantastic for strengthening the upper spine and is a start position for some of the more challenging exercises we do, however it’s a brilliant exercise in its own right too!
In class, for the start position, we tend have the finger tips touching but any position is fine as long as you ensure that the shoulder blades can spread nicely on the back, as this teacher explains.
To add more challenge you can include:
Salutes – Whilst you’re up in your Diamond Press, on your exhale float a hand to your forehead allowing the elbow to come off the floor in line with the hand – make sure it’s not forehead to hand!!! Try not to rotate your torso. Then do the other side on the next exhale. If you’re managing to keep good alignment and your back’s happy, bring both up at the same time. Aim to do sets of two singles and one double building up numbers of sets.
NB If lifting all the way to your forehead’s too strong a movement just hover the hand and elbow off the floor.
Chest lift – Similar but different – this will focus more on strengthening the neck than mobilising it through flexion. Initiate on the exhale by lifting the back of the neck towards the ceiling, think about holding a satsuma under your chin! Then allow your chest to lift but keep your forearms and ribs in contact with the mat. Lower back down with control. Your chest won’t lift as high but you should feel great engagement in the back of your neck, upper back and arms.