Pose Breakdown: Compass Pose
Compass Pose (or Sundial Pose) is the term that we most often hear this pose called today. More formally, it is known in Sanskrit as Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (par-ee-vrt-tah SUHR-yaa yahn-trAHS-anna) . Parivrtta means revolved, Surya means sun, Yantra means device, and Asana means posture.
This difficult pose challenges and stretches your adductors, hamstrings, hips and side body. But this posture opens up some of the most the most subtle, deep and tightest spots in your body.
This pose can truly be a guiding force in your life. The purpose of a compass is to serve as a tool for guidance and support along your path of travel. The openness and expansive quality that is created in this position can help to shift your perspective. It can redirect you back home if you're feeling lost. If you find that you have strayed from your path, it has the ability to nudge you back in the right direction of life. Your body innately knows where your spirit wants to take you. This pose helps to illumine that path.
So, how can you access this ultimate guiding posture? The following is a guide on how to work towards this advanced yoga posture.
This posture will normally take place after a comprehensive and full yoga sequence and class. Your body must be warm and stretched. Begin with Sun Salutations. Bring standing poses into the mix such as Extended Side Angle, Triangle and Prasarita Folds. Focus more on hamstring lengtheners, side-body stretches, and inner groin openers. More helpful poses include Lizard Pose, Baddha Uttanasana, Parvritta Janu Sirsasana and Runner's Lunge (Half Split).
The following explains how to enter into the pose step by step.
1. Sit tall with both legs stretched out straight in front of you. Bend your left knee, bringing the sole of your left foot to your inner left thigh. The outer left leg should be pressed firmly against the floor, knee pointing out to the left. Bend your right knee and place your foot flat on the floor near your inner right thigh.
2. Use both hands and pick up your right leg. You might bring both arms underneath your right calve muscle and begin here. Transition deeper into the stretch by cradling your right leg. Bring your right knee to the crook of your right elbow and your right foot flexed into the crook of your left elbow. Continue to lengthen your lower back and sit up tall. Move your cradled leg side to side.
3. Then, as if you are about to put on the strap of backpback, begin to hoist your your right leg and you want to sling it over your upper-arm. Continue to push your left hand into your flexed foot to press your leg back. Then take you right hand underneath your right calve to bring your leg up your arm and over your should. Tuck your right shoulder behind your knee. Try to get your leg as high as possible. Now that your knee is over your shoulder, place your right hand on the floor in front your inner thigh. Walk your hand out and away from you. As you walk your hand away, begin to externally rotate your right arm slightly.
4. You are still holding onto your right foot with your left hand. To make this pose more accessible, loop a strap over the ball of your right foot and hold onto the strap with your left hand. For more of a challenge, hold onto the outside edge of your foot.
4. Begin to straighten your right leg. Spin your chest open to left. Continue to draw your shoulders down, and lift your lower belly. Find length in your torso. Pull your heart and chest forward. Your gaze can follow your rotation toward the ceiling. Open until you reach your maximum range of motion. This is a huge stretch and opening in your side body.
6. BREATHE. Feel the space and openness that you are creating within this posture. Let your breath and this posture serve as an aid and guiding force in your life.