compass pose

each month we choose a pose to focus on in each class through strong attention to alignment, variations, and/or modifications as a way to grow and expand our yogic horizons.

last month, we focused on forward bends—cooling and calming poses that are excellent postures to practice during the heat of summer. this month we focus on parivrtta surya yantrasana, or compass pose, with the intention of reorienting our inner compass as we transition toward autumn. compass pose is an advanced hip opener and an excellent preparatory pose for arm balances such as eka hasta bhujasana (elephant’s trunk pose) and astavakrasana (eight-angle pose), as well as a preparatory pose for more advanced postures in which the leg is positioned behind the head. the higher the upper extended leg is placed on the grounding arm, the more length you will be able to maintain in the spine and, consequently, the more upright you will be able to remain in the pose.

compass pose should be approached with a great deal of reverence, a patient yet light-hearted attitude, and only after thoroughly warming up hips, hamstrings, groins, shoulders and spine.

parivrtta surya yantrasana (compass pose):
parivrtta = revolved or turned around
surya = sun
yantra = instrument
asana = pose

benefits:
• stretches the hamstrings, groins, shoulders, and spine
• the slightly revolved action of the torso, like more traditional twisting postures, can energize the spine, stimulate the liver, kidneys, and digestive fire, and cleanse the organs
• because the tissues housing the lung meridian are being stretched, the pose may be beneficial for the respiratory system
• as with all postures, working toward this advanced posture in stages can help cultivate patience, discernment, steadiness, and right effort

cautions/contraindications:
• hamstring injury
• groin injury
• shoulder injury
• back or spine injury

preparatory poses:
• uttanasana (standing forward fold)
• lunges
• prasarita padottanasana (wide-legged forward bend)
• ardha matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose, aka seated twist)
• janu sirsasana (head-to-knee forward bend)
• parivrtta janu sirsasana (revolved head-to-knee forward bend) (note that this might also be an appropriate follow-up pose)

song that most comes to mind while in the posture:
u2’s “stuck in a moment you can’t get out of”

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