Marichyasana A translates to “Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi A.” It is one variation of four others (B, C, and D), and Marichi means 'ray of light'.
This pose is traditionally practiced towards the end of several Ashtanga series. Even if you don’t practice Ashtanga, this pose should only be attempted at the end of your practice after your shoulders, hips, and hamstrings are warmed and open.
Looks easy enough, right? Not so fast. There’s a lot of opposition going on here and a lot to think about. Some contracting, some stretching, some reaching, some folding. Let’s take a closer look at how to do Marichyasana A.
- Set Up Your Legs
- From Staff pose, draw in your right foot and plant it as close to your hips as you can—but don’t force your knee, please!
- Flex your left foot, sending energy down through your heel and engaging the entire extended leg.
- Bind Your Arms
- Bring your right arm on the inside of your right thigh, rotating your arm inwards so that your palm is also facing to the right and your thumb is pointing down to the floor.
- Reach forward and around your right shin, bending your arm to hook your elbow crease in front of your knee and get your shin cozy with your armpit. Reach back towards your right thigh, hip, or glutes.
- Left arm will reach behind your back and make contact with your right hand. If you can, you can also grab the wrist.
- Fold Forward
- Engage Uddiyana Bandha (abdominal lock) and lengthen your torso, feeling as if you are lifting up and out of your hips.
- Use your engaged core strength to hinge from your hips and fold forward.
- Keep your right knee hugging in tightly towards your right shoulder (this knee has the tendency to fall out to the side) and your left leg engaged.
- Maybe place your forehead on your leg, or tuck your chin right below your knee cap.
- Bowing down, recognize the ray of light that shines within you, as Marichi was.
Marichyasana A is a challenging variation of a forward fold. It feels awkward at first, but once you find your sweet spot, it deeply opens the shoulders, hips, and back.
The pose also stimulates digestion by compressing the intestines and abdominal organs including the kidneys and liver. This stimulation can help to relieve constipation and gas.
Modifications and Variations
I list out these step by step instructions to get you into the “full expression” of Marichyasana A, however, please keep in mind that in yoga there is no destination. Just you, journeying on your mat.
That said, there are several modifications and variations to this pose to find your own expression of Marichyasana A and still receive all the benefits of the pose. If you’re...
Not ready to bind your arms - You can simply hug the leg in towards your chest. Or, to involve the shoulders, instead of reaching around your back, bring both your arms out to the sides and bend the elbows, as you would in a pushup.
Not quite able to bind and clasp your hands yet - Grab a strap and hold onto it behind your back. Slowly walk your hands closer towards one another to close the gap between your hands.
Be cautious in this pose if you are tight in the hips and groin, as well as in the shoulders. The ego often pushes us to bind and bend in half. Let that go. Move slowly as you progress through the steps of this pose, pausing when you meet your limits.
Recognize and respect your body's limitations—use these steps to help find your expression of Marichyasana A. Happy practicing!