Themed Lesson Plan: PARAVRITTA SURYA YANTRASANA (Compass/Sundial Pose)

A. Introduction

This hip-opening series doesn’t include any of the usual suspects (e.g. Pigeon Pose, Bound Angle Pose, Lotus, etc. ) as those poses mostly focus on stretching the external rotators, overlooking the front of the pelvis and the inner thighs.

The idea is for a more balanced approach that will create stability in the entire pelvis, which also includes the thighbones, hipbones, and sacrum. This sequence works the inner legs and the deep muscles of the lower back and the hip flexors.

B. Warm-up:

1. Pelvic Tilts

Stand with feet hip-width apart and put your hands on your hips.
Wedge a block between the thighs, as high up as possible and squeeze the block.
Bend the knees slightly, and stick the sitting bones out in an exaggerated movement. Feel how the thighs rotate inwards as the block rolls towards the back.

2. Reverse Pelvic Tilts

Keeping hands on the hips and the block between the thighs, tuck the tailbone forward and round the lower back.
Feel the thighs spin away from each other in external rotation, and the lower back flatten.

3. Tadasana – ground the four corners of the feet, tuck the tailbone in, suck the tummy.

4. Suryanamaskar (3 sets) – lunge series

– Inhale arms up.
– Exhale bend forward.
– Inhale halfway up.
– Exhale step the right foot back to a low lunge, fingertips grazing the floor. Stay for one breath.
– Step left foot back to Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana).
– Inhale and step right foot forward to low lunge.
– Exhale forward bend.
– Inhale arms up.
– Samasthiti.

C. Standing Postures

1. Adho Mukha Svanasana, Variation 1 – three-legged

– Inhale arms up, exhale bend forward, inhale halfway up, exhale to downward dog.
– Lift the tailbone up, flatten the heels down and straighten the legs.
– Press the fingers firmly on the floor and roll the shoulders away from the ears.
– Inhale lift the right leg up, keeping the hips square, rotate thighs inwards.
– Bring the leg down. Repeat on the other side.

2. Adho Mukha Svanasana, Variation 2 – pelvic twist

– From Balasana, get into Downward Dog.
– Inhale lift the right leg up, bend the knee and open the hip, pointing the knee toward the sky. Repeat on the other side.

3. Baddha Virabhadrasana (Humble Warrior)

– Get into Downward Dog, step the right foot forward between the hands.
– Turn the left heel in, press the feet down and lift the torso up, squaring the hips.
– Interlace the hands behind, press the palms together.
– Shift the right knee a little bit to the side and fold forward at the hips.
– Place forehead or crown of the head on the floor if possible and move the arms towards the front to stretch the shoulders and chest.
– Release hands onto the floor and back to Downward Dog. Repeat on the other side.

4. Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)

– From Downward Dog, step the right foot outside of the right hand.
– Bring both forearms to the floor keeping the left thigh lifted off the ground.
– Press the left heel towards the back, open the chest and lengthen the upper back.
– Step to forward bend. Switch sides.

D. Sitting Postures

1. Krounchasana (Heron Pose)

– With the right leg in Virasana (Hero Pose), bend the left knee and reach the right hand to the outside of your left foot lifting the leg.
– Keep a natural curve in the lower back and straighten the lifted leg and begin to twist the torso to the left.
– Place the left fingertips behind the left hip and lean back. As the spine lifts and rotates, the leg reaches in the opposite direction, stretching into the left hip
– Stay for 5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

2. Parivritta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose)

– Sit with legs spread wide. Bend the left knee and place the sole of the left foot against the right inner thigh.
– Keeping sitting bones firmly on the floor, open the right arm out to the right with the palm facing the ceiling and then reaching the arm and torso out to the right.
– Lower the right elbow to the ground, just inside the right knee then roll the torso up toward the ceiling.
– Reach the left arm up and overhead, catch the right foot with both hands and peek under the left armpit. Switch sides. Dandasana.

2. Shoulder Under Knee, Foot Hold

– From Dandasana, bend the left knee and place the sole of the left foot against the right inner thigh.
– Take right hand to right ankle and take left hand over and to the outer edge of right foot.
– Round the spine and wiggle the right shoulder underneath the right knee.
– Lengthen the spine. Repeat on the left.

E. Full Posture – Parivritta Surya Yantrasana (Compass Pose)

– From the last pose, release right hand to the ground, fingertips facing away from you, soften right elbow as much as you want, and start to poke head under left shoulder (the same as you did in forward fold during the prep).
– Lengthen the right leg to any degree that feels good, and breathe. Repeat on the left.

F. Finishing Sequence

1. Knees to Chest

– Draw your knees into your chest and press your lower back into the floor. If this feels good, roll around on your sacrum a few times.
– Circle the knees clockwise for three or four breaths, then counterclockwise.

2. Reclining Twist

– Keep the knees bent and bring the arms out to a T shape, palms facing up.
– With thighs at a 90-degree angle to the spine, shift the hips to the left and drop the knees to the right.
– Bring the knees back to the center, drop them to the left, and look to the right.

G. Savasana

BY Leigh Cabañes