Get ready hamstrings and hips, this one’s for you! Compass Pose, or Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana, is a gorgeous reminder of how yoga helps us chart our own course and find our own way to the home in our soul. When practiced correctly, this pose both looks and feels awesome!
It is so important to warm up the hips and hamstrings before even attempting this one. I would suggest practicing Fire-Log Pose (Agni Stambasana), Thread-the-Needle (also referred to as Reclined Pigeon), or Cradle-the-Baby first. Janu Sirsasana, or Head-to-Knee Pose, is also a really great opener to practice.
How to Prepare for Compass Pose
- Sit cross-legged. Start by taking a big breath in and lengthening the back. Then fold forward. Take 5 deep inhales and exhales here to loosen up the back of the hips. Then slowly walk the hands back up and release. Switch sides.
- The next step is similar to the first, only this time, try to stack the ankle on top of the knee. This is essentially Fire-Log Pose, but it's very important to practice this before attempting Compass Pose. Make sure to flex both feet. This is important to keep your knees safe. Hold for 5 deep Ujayii breaths and then again, switch sides.
How to do Compass Pose
Again, sit cross-legged. Bring your right foot in front. Then take the right leg, and keeping the knee at a 90-degree angle, draw the leg toward the body. In this way, the shin will be crossing the body and the knee will be somewhere near the right armpit.
Next, place the left hand on the ball of the right foot. Place the right hand on the right calf. Then using the hands as your guide, start to “backpack” the right leg onto the right shoulder. So you are using the right hand to guide the knee and upper leg back behind the right shoulder, then try to get that leg to wrap around the shoulder like a backpack.
Now, extend the right arm out to the side. Keep the back nice and long. Spread the collarbones. Keep the chest open and proud. Slightly roll the shoulders back and down. This will help keep the right leg in place.
Look away from the foot. Shine your gaze over the left shoulder and up to the sky. Take a big breath in, and using the left hand as a helper, start to straighten the right leg. If your hamstrings and hips are super open, then the leg will straighten all the way without too much effort.
If you’re a bit tighter, inwardly rotate the top of the right thigh. This will get you to completely straighten the hamstring. If you feel a bit of resistance, this is normal. Sometimes the hamstring has to cross the knee joint to straighten all the way with the hips in this position.
Just remember, don’t force or strain. If it doesn’t come today, try another day.
With some opening and practice, Compass Pose becomes a very comforting and grounding asana. Use this posture to practice finding a sense of home even when you’re far from it. After all, home is when our soul is at peace, and yoga helps us find a sense of home wherever we are.
Do you love practicing Compass Pose? Share your tips and tricks with the community in the comments below!