Asana of the Week: Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana
How much do I love Compass pose? A whole lot. It's a fantastic asana for tight hips and hamstrings, with the added bonus of a nice side stretch that runs all the way up through the shoulder. Hip and hamstring openers have been a recurring theme here, and that's because they are areas of constant tension for myself and many others.
When first learning Compass pose, my hamstring and shoulder tension were my biggest obstacles. Occasionally, I still experience some intense sensation in the shoulder when practicing this asana, so I would suggest when practicing Compass pose to be mindful of how much you're pushing through the foot against the pull of the arm. You'll notice in the picture that my elbow is fairly bent to ease the stretch in the outer shoulder. The same principle applies to the leg if the hamstrings are tight. Keep a slight bend in the knee and focus more on bringing the knee high onto the shoulder.
Compass pose is excellent preparation for the leg-behind-head postures as it develops that same mobility around the hip joints. Aside from the physical benefits of practicing Compass pose, a long stay in this asana makes me feel like a work of art. It's gloriously opening and statuesque, with beautiful asymmetry that leads up to a single point in the extended foot. I'm not much of a dancer, but the beauty of the practice never fails to amaze me.
Readers: what's your experience with Compass pose?