Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose): Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose) - Sharp Muscle
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Updated: February 19th, 2023

The Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana, also known as Seated Compass Pose or Sundial Pose, stretches your shoulders, arms, wrists, legs, and enhances your arm strength.

This is a challenging pose that is an excellent shoulder opener. Due to the complexity of the pose, it is usually performed only by advanced yogis and is beneficial for those who wish to open their hips.

Before performing this pose, it is a good idea to work on its simple forms to build up your strength and flexibility as necessary.

Information

Known as:Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana, Surya Yantrasana, Seated Compass Pose, Sundial Pose, Revolved Sundial Pose
Sanskrit name:परिव्रत सूर्य यंत्रासन
IAST:Parivrtta Sūrya Yantrāsana
Pronunciation:Par-ee-vrt-tah SUR-yuH Yan-truh-AHS-anah
Type:Sitting, twist, side-bend, hip opener
Level:Advanced
Focus:Arms, shoulders, neck, middle back, core, hips, hamstrings, pelvic, and psoas muscles
Total time:15 to 30 seconds
Drishti:Toward the sky and over the upraised arm
Chakra:Manipura Chakra, Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra
Indications:Respiratory system, abdominal organs, liver and kidneys, digestion, hamstrings, pelvic muscles, spinal column
Counterposes:Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana), Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Preparatory poses:Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana), Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-knee Pose), Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose (Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend Pose), Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Forward Bend Pose), Uttana Pristhasana (Lizard Pose), Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (Three Legged Downward Facing Dog Pose), Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Follow-up poses:Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head To Knee Forward Bend Pose), Forward Fold (Uttanasana), Boat Pose (Navasana), Camel Pose (Ustrasana), Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana), Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Contraindications:Back, groin, shoulder, or hamstring injuries, slipped disc or sciatica, during pregnancy and in postnatal stages women

Meaning

Surya Yantrasana

The Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of four words — Parivrtta + Surya + Yantra + Asana:

  1. Parivrtta” = “revolved or twisted”
  2. Surya” = “sun”
  3. Yantra” = “instrument”
  4. Asana” = “pose or posture”

The name literally translates into English as Revolving Solar Yantra Pose or Revolved Sun Compass Pose.

The name suggests that the posture involves a twisting or revolving motion, and that it is energizing and invigorating like the sun. The reference to the “compass” in the name may suggest that the posture requires a great deal of focus and attention to detail, much like navigating with a compass.

The symbolic significance of the Compass Pose further explains its meaning, as the body in this posture symbolizes a compass that draws the practitioner closer to his physical and spiritual practice.

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Overall, the name conveys the dynamic and powerful nature of this advanced yoga posture.

Benefits of Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose)

Practicing this advanced seated twist pose is a combination of twists for both the upper body (shoulders) and lower body (hips) and offers many benefits when practiced correctly.

Some of these physical and mental benefits are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Strengthens the arms, shoulders, back, thighs, and stomach muscles
    • Stretches the groin, hamstrings, thighs, knees, calves, ankles, spine, and tissues of the lung meridian
    • Tones the arms and leg muscles
    • Enhances the elasticity in the spinal column
    • Opens the shoulder and psoas muscles
    • Improves the spinal and hip flexibility
    • Improve the energy levels in the body and mind
    • Stimulates the respiratory system
    • Massages the internal abdominal organs, and stimulates the liver and kidneys
    • Improves blood flow towards the digestive system
    • Stimulates enzyme and digestive juices secretion
    • Enhances the sexual energy
  2. Mental Benefits:

Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose) Practice Guide

Being an advanced seated twist practice, Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose) opens your body and mind to different levels. However, treating your muscles with its toning and massaging effects is totally worth it.

Therefore, without delay, practice this mudra to bring physical and spiritual benefits and elevate the yoga journey.

Instructions

  1. Start sitting by crossing your legs and placing your hands on your knees.
  2. Lengthen the right arm along the inside of the right knee and grab hold of the outside of the right foot.
  3. Begin to straighten the left leg and as you do so, place the left hand under the foot for a kickstand-like support.
  4. Holding the leg with the right hand, continue to take the left leg back.
  5. The right hand should go behind the head and body, and the left leg should be completely straight.
  6. Pay attention to balance, place the sit bone of the lower leg down on the mat. Turn your head to the left to see that left hand. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.
  7. To release, bend the extended top knee again, drop the right hand under the right leg and drop the foot to the floor.

Alignment Tips

Two major misalignment commonly occur during Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose) — the front body slumps down, rounding the spine and low back, and/or the bottom shoulder is forced forward, straining your neck and muscles of your rotator cuff.

Correct alignment is essential for a safe and effective yoga practice, as it helps to prevent injury and ensures that you receive maximum benefits from each pose. It can help to improve your posture, increase your body awareness, prevent injury, and enhance the overall effectiveness of your practice.

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Correct alignment can also help to deepen your breath and promote a sense of calm and focus. By taking the time to focus on alignment, you can ensure that your yoga practice is safe, effective, and enjoyable.

Here are some alignment tips that can help you in your Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose) practice:

  • Grounding: Start by grounding yourself, spreading your weight evenly across your feet or hands, and engaging your core muscles to stabilize your spine.
  • Engage your muscles: Engage your muscles in a way that supports the pose. For example, in a standing pose like Warrior II, engage your leg muscles to support your weight and keep your knee in line with your ankle.
  • Stack your joints: Align your joints to reduce stress on your muscles and prevent injury. For example, in Tree Pose, stack your ankle, knee, and hip of your standing leg, and keep your lifted foot pressing into your standing leg.
  • Lengthen your spine: Keep your spine long and straight, with your shoulders stacked over your hips. Avoid collapsing into your lower back, which can strain your muscles.
  • Focus on your breath: Maintain a smooth, steady breath to help you stay focused and present in the pose. This can also help you find ease in the pose.
  • Use props: Use props such as blocks, straps, or blankets to help you achieve proper alignment in the pose. Props can help you deepen the pose or modify it to suit your body.
Note:
Remember, the goal of yoga is not to achieve a perfect pose, but to practice mindfully and with awareness of your body. Pay attention to the sensations in your body, and honor what feels good and safe for you. With practice, you’ll develop a better understanding of how to align your body in different poses and optimize the benefits of your practice.

Common mistakes

Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose) is an advanced yoga posture that requires a lot of flexibility and strength. It is important to approach this pose gradually and with proper alignment, as there are several common mistakes that can cause injury and prevent you from receiving the full benefits of the pose.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid in Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana:

  • Forcing the twist: Avoid forcing your torso to twist too far to the side. This can strain your spine and lead to injury. Instead, focus on lengthening your spine and twisting from your core.
  • Collapsing in the chest: Keep your chest lifted and open in this pose. Avoid collapsing forward or rounding your shoulders, as this can restrict your breathing and limit the benefits of the pose.
  • Overstretching the hamstrings: Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana requires a lot of flexibility in the hamstrings, but it is important not to overdo it. If you feel pain or discomfort in your hamstrings, back off and work on stretches that are more appropriate for your level of flexibility.
  • Straining the neck: Avoid twisting your neck too far in this pose. Instead, keep your gaze forward or towards the ceiling, and focus on twisting from your core.
  • Not using props: If you are unable to catch your hands behind your back, use a strap to hold onto or a block to prop up your hand. This can help you achieve proper alignment and avoid injury.

By avoiding these common mistakes and practicing with proper alignment, you can safely and effectively enjoy the benefits of Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Seated Compass Pose). Remember to approach this pose with patience and humility, and listen to your body to avoid injury.

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Modifications

The modifications of this yoga pose can make more accessible and allow you to reap its benefits even if you are not able to fully perform the traditional expression of the pose. With these modifications, you can still enjoy the benefits of Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana, or Seated Compass Pose and progress towards the full expression of the pose over time.

Here are the modifications you can try:

  • Use a strap: If you are not able to catch your hands behind your back, use a yoga strap or towel to hold onto. This can help you to achieve proper alignment and still experience the stretch in your shoulders, hips, and hamstrings.
  • Use a block: If you are not able to fully extend your arm to the outside of your foot, place a block on the floor next to your foot and rest your hand on it. This can help you to achieve a similar stretch while keeping your arm straight and avoiding strain.
  • Practice with a bent leg: If you are not able to straighten your leg fully in this pose, you can keep the knee of the extended leg bent. This can help you to focus on the twist and opening of the chest and still experience the benefits of the posture.
  • Use a chair: You can modify this pose by using a chair. Sit sideways on the chair with your feet on the floor and twist your torso to the side. Use the back of the chair to support your hand and hold onto the seat of the chair with your other hand.

Precautions and contraindications

Seated Compass Pose is an advanced seated twist pose, there are some precautions and contraindications to keep in mind while practicing Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana, which are explained below:

Injury and surgery

As the practice of this pose involves deep stretching of shoulders, hamstrings, hips, pelvis, chest, and abdomen with deep stretches, injuries of shoulders, elbows, wrists, neck, rib cage, hips, abdominal region, knees, ankles etc., this pose should be avoided. People who are recovering from any surgery should also avoid this pose, even if you are in a state of recovery.

Slip disc and sciatica

A pulled hamstring will affect all nerves connected to the lower back and hips, so this pose should be avoided in those with issues related to the sciatic nerve, or with a herniated disc in any part of the spine.

Pregnant women

Pregnant women, even if you have a lot of experience, should avoid practicing Sundial Pose as it puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Post-delivery individuals should also avoid this pose as the pelvic, uterus and abdominal muscles are still tender and in a state of recovery.

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