Compass Pose or Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana

How to Do Compass Pose - Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana
Compass Pose - Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana. Sigi Kolbe/Moment Open/Getty Images

We typically define yoga poses as advanced when they require a combination of "skills" (flexibility, strength, balance, etc.) because it usually takes time and experience to build those things and then put them together. Compass pose qualifies, by virtue of the extreme openness of hamstrings and shoulders that are necessary for the full expression of the pose. If you're not there yet, no worries. You can practice this pose with a bent leg for a good long while as long as you take care to avoid rolling your weight to the back of your butt, which will also cause the spine to round forward. See the beginner's tips below for more ways to adapt this pose.

Type of Pose: Seated

Benefits: Intense hamstring stretch and shoulder opener.


1. Begin a comfortable loose cross-legged position.

2. Bend your right knee, hugging it into your chest.

3. You may leave the left leg bent or straighten it out in front of you.

4. Lift your right leg with your left hand. Thread your right arm underneath your right knee,  bringing the right fingertips to the floor to the outside of your right hip.

5. Use your left hand to position your right knee as high up on the right arm as possible. The higher you can go, the easier the pose will be. Ideally, the right knee comes over the right shoulder.

6. Bring your left hand to the outside edge of your right foot.

7. Begin to straighten your right leg as you simultaneously bring the left arm back behind your head.

8. Take the gaze towards your left arm.

9. Keep the spine upright.

10. Release and repeat on the other side.

Beginners' Tips

1. Take care to stay up on the top of your sit bones the whole time and do not let the spine collapse into a slump. This is more important than straightening the lifted leg.

2. It's fine to keep your leg bent.

3. You can use a strap around your foot to connect it to your hand if the reach is not there otherwise.

4. Work up to step 5 or 6 and stop there.

5. Elephant's trunk pose (eka hasta bhujasana) is a  good preparatory posture.

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