Compass Pose Yoga

Compass Pose Yoga

Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve already been practicing yoga for over two decades. Let alone the fact that I’ve been teaching for 10 years!

But, here we are. Still just as in love with the yoga practice as I was when I was just a teenager. 

Needless to say, I’ve learned a thing or two about the importance of adding variety to your yoga practice….both as a yoga teacher, and as a student.

Of course my classes will often remind you of all of the variations and options within the flow, as well as reminding you to take breaks and honor your body’s needs. However, it’s also important to remember there’s a difference between honoring your body’s need to rest, and choosing to quit because something is hard. 

A huge part of the yoga practice is being able to distinguish between the two. 

This is why it can be so helpful to add more advanced yoga poses into your regular practice can provide all of the obvious benefits like building strength and flexibility, but they can also provide the less obvious benefits like confidence and excitement. 

Enter Compass Pose. Otherwise known as Sundial Pose to some of you. 

This posture is certainly advanced, challenging, and gets you burning and balancing in all the right places. But it’s also one that can be practiced seated (think Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana), or with a yoga prop like a strap.

Yes, any variation of Compass Pose will certainly require deep hip opening, hamstring length, balance, and core activation. But it also requires a softening of the mind to be mentally open to trying something new (and challenging!) at all. 

Today’s post is dedicated to all things Compass Pose, so that you can start incorporating this delicious posture into your yoga practice today.

Learn more advanced yoga poses like advanced backbend yoga poses.

Try my Journey To Splits series to open your hips, and learn how to practice Compass Pose safely. 

Compass Pose Yoga

Traditionally, Compass Pose is a standing balance posture. However, it can be modified into a seated version as Seated Compass Pose, as well. 

Both variations require opening of the inner and outer hips, length in the hamstrings, space across the chest and shoulders, and core activation to stabilize. 

While there’s a lot going on in the legs in this posture, this is also a twisting pose with deep shoulders and chest opening, as well. 

Phew…that’s a lot. 

And the benefits don’t disappoint either!

This pose will help to build strength in the entire lower body and core, while also improving focus through balance and breath. Plus, it provides a little boost of confidence with the challenging nature of it. 

Prepare for Compass Pose using my Journey To Splits guide

Compass Pose Yoga

How To Do Compass Pose

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of how the heck to do Compass Pose. Keep in mind, these instructions are assuming you are trying the standing version. 

I will also include how you can modify using a strap. 

Step 1: Single Leg Tadasana

Inhale to Stork, or Single Leg Tadasana by drawing your left knee towards your chest without using your hands. Keep breathing and make sure your left leg is super activated by flexing your left foot so that your pinky toe draws back a little more than your big toe. 

Make sure you keep the left hip square with the right hip as you continue to bend the left knee in towards your chest without your hands.

Step 2: Add The Bind

Continuing to breathe, you can grab a strap at this point and loop it underneath your left foot, holding on with your right hand. Your left arm can stay by your side, or your left hand can come to your left hip. 

Or, still breathing, without a strap grab your outer left foot (the pinky toe side) with your right hand. You can bring your left knee closer to your chest to achieve the bind. 

Step 3: Extend Your Leg

Take a deep breath in wherever you are, and use an exhale to ground into your right foot for stability. Rather than locking out your right knee, you can even bend your right knee slightly for buoyancy. 

With your next inhale, start to straighten your left leg while keeping the bind that you have with or without the strap. Continue to breathe as you work your left foot skyward, rather than kicking it straight out in front of you. 

Step 4: Side Body Opening

Inhale to lift your left foot as high as possible, working your right arms towards straight. Exhale to start opening your right side body, by spiraling your chest and gaze under your right shoulder and armpit. 

Remember, if this feels damn near impossible- your strap is there! The more length you have on the strap, the more accessible this side body and twisting motion will be.

Step 5: Complete The Twist

Continue to breathe where you are, using your inhales for length in the left leg, and your exhales to twist a little deeper. 

You have the option to fully complete the twist with your next exhale by looking over to the right side with your eyes and head, and sending your left arm out to the left side with all 10 fingers fanned wide. 

Make sure to repeat on the other side.

Compass Pose Yoga

Compass Pose Variations

Did you try it? Are you sweating and panting, and like, what the heck was that?!

It’s a challenging one, I know. 

The good news is that we have options for you beyond just using the strap. The strap is great, because this provides more space across the chest, shoulders, and hamstrings…but it still requires a ton of balancing effort which might not be accessible to you just yet.

The below options will help you get closer to full standing Compass Pose in no time!

This about these variations like how Eight Angle Pose is a great gateway to something like Flying Lizard or Flying Pigeon down the line.

Open your hips with my Journey To Splits program

Revolved Hand To Foot Pose

This posture is the perfect warm up for Standing Compass Pose, or Seated Compass Pose. This is a moderate to intermediate level posture that requires hamstring length, space in the chest, and balance. 

Inhale to Single Leg Tadasana with your left knee to chest and right foot grounded. Exhale to bind your right hand to your outer left foot or outer left knee. 

Inhale to remind length in your spine, rather than leaning backwards. And exhale to Revolved Hand To Foot Pose by keeping your bind, and kicking your left foot forward as you keep your spine long. 

Keep breathing, and complete the twist by sending your left arm straight back gazing backwards with the eyes. 

Seated Compass Pose

Seated Compass Pose can be accessed from a seated crossed legged position, with the right ankle on top. This posture is still an advanced pose, but more accessible than Standing Compass Pose due to the seated nature of it.

For more of a hip opener beforehand, feel free to start in Fire Log Pose (Double Pigeon) with the right shin stacked on the left shin.

Grab your outer right foot with your left hand, and inhale to straighten the right leg by kicking the right foot high instead of forward. Exhale to add the twist by working your left arms towards straight as you rock your right shoulder underneath your extended right leg. 

Keep breathing, and make sure to do both sides. 

Seated Compass Pose With Strap

Seated Compass Pose with a strap will be exactly the same as Seated Compass Pose without the strap, only instead of binding your opposite hand and foot, you’ll have a strap there for a little more space in the chest, shoulders, and hamstrings. 

Remember, the more space you have between your hand and foot (meaning your strap is quite long), the more accessible this posture will be!

woman doing a Compass Pose Yoga

Let me know which variation of Compass Pose is your favorite in the comments below! Follow me on Instagram for more updates.



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