Click here to access our full YouTube yoga tutorial for Marichyasana A

Yoga Pose Marichyasana A is the first of four Marīcyāsana poses from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. Also spelled Marīcyāsana A (mar-ee-chee-AHS-anna), Marichyasana translates to the Pose Dedicated to the Sage Maricihi.

Marichyasana A is the fourteenth pose of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series, and the ninth seated posture in that series. All four Marichyasana poses (A, B, C, D) build upon one another to prepare the practitioner for the postures to come.  Marichyasana A & B are forward bends (straight and lotus leg positions) and C & D are rotations or twists (straight leg and lotus leg positions).

If you would like to learn about each of the Marichyasana postures, I have written a step-by-step guide for all four of the Marichyasana poses of the Ashtanga Primary Series (Marichyasana B, Marichyasana C and Marichyasana D).

Benefits:

Spinal Flexibility: Marichyasana involves a deep spinal twist, which helps to increase the flexibility of your spine. This can improve your overall posture and relieve tension in the back and shoulders.

Digestive Health: The twisting action in Marichyasana stimulates the abdominal organs, including the digestive system. This can aid in digestion, alleviate constipation, and enhance the overall function of the digestive tract.

Detoxification: The twisting motion in Marichyasana helps to wring out and stimulate the internal organs, promoting detoxification and improved circulation. This can assist the body in eliminating waste and toxins.

Improved Lung Capacity: The chest expansion and deep breathing associated with Marichyasana can enhance lung capacity and oxygen intake. This can be especially beneficial for respiratory health.

Stress Relief: Practicing Marichyasana requires concentration and mindful breathing, which can help calm the mind and reduce stress and anxiety.

Increased Flexibility: The pose stretches the hamstrings, hips, and shoulders, which can contribute to greater overall flexibility and range of motion.

Enhanced Energy Flow: Twisting poses like Marichyasana are believed to stimulate the flow of energy (prana) through the body’s energy channels (nadis). This can help balance the body’s energy and promote a sense of vitality.

Improved Spinal Mobility: Marichyasana involves a rotation of the spine, which can help maintain and improve spinal mobility and prevent stiffness.

Strengthened Core Muscles: The engagement of the core muscles is necessary to maintain balance and stability in Marichyasana. Regular practice can help strengthen and tone the core muscles.

Mind-Body Connection: Marichyasana requires focus and concentration as you align your body and maintain the pose. This can help cultivate a stronger mind-body connection and improve overall awareness.

Therapeutic Benefits: Marichyasana ariations can offer specific therapeutic benefits, such as relieving menstrual discomfort, reducing lower back pain, and aiding in digestion.

Remember that yoga poses should be practiced mindfully and with proper alignment. It’s a good idea to learn and practice Marichyasana under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor, especially if you’re new to yoga or have any pre-existing health conditions. As with any physical practice, it’s important to listen to your body and not force yourself into a position that feels uncomfortable or painful.

Contraindications:

While Marichyasana can offer numerous benefits, it’s important to be aware of potential contraindications, especially if you have certain health conditions or limitations. Here are some contraindications and precautions to consider before practicing Marichyasana or its variations:

Spinal Issues:

Individuals with severe spinal injuries, herniated discs, or other serious spinal conditions should approach Marichyasana with caution or avoid it altogether. Twisting poses like Marichyasana can put strain on the spine and exacerbate existing issues.

Pregnancy:

Deep twisting poses, including Marichyasana, are generally not recommended during pregnancy, particularly in the second and third trimesters. Twisting can compress the abdomen and potentially affect the growing fetus.

A pregnant yoga student from the Yoga Shala in Maitland, Florida, performing a modified Marichyasana A outdoors in the grass. She sits up tall and looks to the left, demonstrating a safe adaptation for pregnant women.

High Blood Pressure:

Twisting poses can temporarily raise blood pressure. If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure or hypertension, it’s best to avoid deep twists like Marichyasana, as they could potentially increase your blood pressure further.

Recent Abdominal Surgery:

If you’ve had recent abdominal surgery, particularly involving the digestive organs, it’s advisable to avoid deep twisting poses until you’ve fully recovered and received clearance from your healthcare provider.

Hip or Knee Injuries:

If you have acute hip or knee injuries, Marichyasana may put strain on these areas and worsen the injuries. Consult with a medical professional or experienced yoga instructor to determine whether modifications are appropriate.

Ankle or Foot Issues:

If you have ankle or foot injuries or limitations, be cautious with Marichyasana variations that involve bending and placing weight on the legs.

Inflammatory Bowel Conditions:

If you have conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, deep twisting poses could potentially aggravate symptoms. Consult your healthcare provider before attempting these poses.

Vertigo or Dizziness:

The twisting motion in Marichyasana may cause dizziness or vertigo in some individuals. If you are prone to these sensations, practice the pose with extra care or consider avoiding it.

Elderly Individuals:

Older adults with limited flexibility or mobility should practice Marichyasana with modifications or under the guidance of a skilled yoga instructor, as deep twists can strain muscles and joints.

Remember that each person’s body is unique, and what might be suitable for one individual might not be appropriate for another. It’s always wise to consult with a qualified healthcare provider or an experienced yoga instructor before attempting any yoga pose, especially if you have underlying health conditions or concerns. They can provide personalized guidance and help you adapt the pose to your individual needs and limitations.

Step-by-Step Instructions for the Full Expression of Marichyasana A (Sanskrit Vinyasa Count)

Owner Krista Shirley adjusts a student in Marichyasana B pose during a Mysore style Ashtanga Yoga class inside the Yoga Shala at 140 Circle Drive #4 in Maitland, Florida.

Tap here to watch a step-by-step tutorial of Marichyasana A

We will be entering this posture from downward facing dog, having just taken a vinyasa after Janu Sirsasana C to seated position. 

Sapta (Vinyasa #7): From Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog), look forward and walk or jump your feet through and have a seat on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.  Keep your left leg extended forward and inhale as you bend your right knee up.  Place your right foot on the floor a hands width distance away from your inner left thigh.  Pull the right foot close to your pelvis.  Reach your right arm forward and wrap the right arm around your bent right knee (near the shin).  Then reach your left arm behind your back to bind your hands. If you can grab the left wrist with the right hand.  Extend your spine, lift your chest.

Asthau (Vinyasa #8) Exhale and fold forward out over your straight left leg.  Be sure you maintain flexion in your left foot, engage the left quadricep and press your left heel forward as you press your tailbone backward. Throughout the posture work to slightly internally rotate your left leg to keep it from falling out to the left. Bring your chin to your chin if you can.  Look towards your toes (Padhayoragrai drishti). During the posture, work to keep your chest open and your shoulders back to avoid rounding your shoulders or back. Breathe here for five deep breaths.  With each inhale, elongate your spine, lifting your chest slightly.

Nava (Vinyasa #9) Inhale, lift your head and lengthen your spine.  Keep your hands bound around your feet.  Exhale there.

Dasa (Vinyasa #10) Inhale, bring your hands to the floor, cross your legs and lift your body up off the ground.

Ekadasa (Vinyasa #11) Exhale and jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana.

Dvadasa (Vinyasa #12) Inhale into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana(Upward facing dog)

Trayodasa (Vinyasa #13) Exhale into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)

Caturdasa (Vinyasa #14) From Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog), look forward and walk or jump your feet through and have a seat on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.  Keep your right leg extended forward and inhale as you bend your left knee up.  Place your left foot on the floor a hands width distance away from your inner right thigh.  Pull the left foot close to your pelvis.  Reach your left arm forward and wrap the right arm around your bent left knee (near the shin).  Then reach your right arm behind your back to bind your hands. If you can grab the right wrist with the left hand.  Extend your spine, lift your chest.

Pancadasa (Vinyasa #15) Exhale and fold forward out over your straight right leg.  Be sure you maintain flexion in your right foot, engage the right quadricep and press your right heel forward as you press your tailbone backward. Throughout the posture work to slightly internally rotate your right leg to keep it from falling out to the right. Bring your chin to your chin if you can.  Look towards your toes (Padhayoragrai drishti). During the posture, work to keep your chest open and your shoulders back to avoid rounding your shoulders or back. Breathe here for five deep breaths.  With each inhale, elongate your spine, lifting your chest slightly.

Sodasa (Vinyasa #16) Inhale, lift your head and lengthen your spine.  Keep your hands bound around your feet.  Exhale there.

Saptadasa (Vinyasa #17) Inhale, bring your hands to the floor, cross your legs and lift your body up off the ground.

Ashtadasa (Vinyasa #18) Exhale and jump back into Chaturanga Dandasana.

Ekoonavimsatih (Vinyasa #19) Inhale into Urdhva Mukha Svanasana(Upward facing dog)

Vimsatih (Vinyasa #20) Exhale into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward facing dog)

Tap above or click here to access our full YouTube yoga tutorial for Marichyasana A

Modifications

The instructions above are for getting into the full expression of Marichyasana A.  However, if you find you are unable to practice the full expression of this posture, there are several wonderful variations or modifications you can take to start where you are and safely work towards the full expression of the posture.

Variation 1:

Start with your legs extended out in front of you.  Sit tall and bend your right knee.  Bring both arms around the bent right knee and clasp your hands together if you can.  Stay here for five deep breaths. Try to ground your sits bones and lift and lengthen out of your lower back. Keep your left foot flexed and your left quadricep engaged.

This modification will help you strengthen and open your lower back.  Over time this modification will help open your body so that you can fold forward with a flat back. If your hip flexors are very tight/short this is a great modification for you.

Variation 2:

In variation two, start with your legs stretch out in front of you.  Keep your left leg extended and bend your right knee up.  Work to ground your right foot into the floor and press your right leg towards your right side body. If your foot is grounded and your knee is pressing towards your right rib cage, reach both arms forward to grab your left shin.  Some students may find the right side body is tight and they are not able to reach as far with the right arm as the left.

Please note that it is important to grab the shins tightly with the hands and engage your latissimus dorsi.  This will allow for engagement of the upper body and allow gravity to help you stretch your body forward (tensegrity).   Press your chest up. Pull your hands down.  At the same time, press your sits bones back towards the ground.  Press your right knee towards your ribs.  Take five deep breaths here.

Work to maintain length in your spine. DO NOT round your back or your shoulders.  This modificaton can help relieve chronic lower back pain.

 Variation 3:

Variation three is ideal for students who can bind their hands behind their back but cannot fold forward with a flat back, or cannot keep the shoulders from rounding while you fold forward. Try this instead: Start with your legs extended out in front of you.  Bend your right knee up and actively extend your left leg.  Wrap your right arm around your right leg and your left arm behind you.  Grab your fingers or wrist.

Instead of folding forward, sit up tall and try to engage your back (rhomboids, trapezius and latissimus dorsi).  At the same time, slightly rotate your upper body to the left.  Take five deep breaths here. DO NOT round your body here.  Focus on lengthening your torso to rotate and twist so you get better extension.  Keep your breathe steady and bandhas active.

This variation will help you safely strengthen the muscles of your back.  It will also assist in opening the muscles of your chest so you can eventually fold forward with a flat back and open chest.

Variation 4:

Variation four is for those who are able to do variation three with no trouble.  This modification is close to the full expression.  Start with your legs extended in front of you.  Keep your left leg extended and bend your right knee up.  Wrap your right arm around your bent right knee and take your left arm behind you.  Bind your hands.  Engage your back muscles and try to externally rotate your shoulders backward as you begin to fold forward, slightly.

Work to lengthen and open your chest.  DO NOT round your back or shoulders.  Everything in this modification is focused on extension.  It is alright if your forehead doesn’t touch your shin.  If you practice this variation consistently, you’ll soon find yourself in the full expression of Marichyasana A, with a flat back and open chest!

Common Mistakes

  1. Be sure to allow enough space between the foot of your bent leg and your opposite thigh (about a hand width distance apart).  Make sure your foot isn’t too close to your opposite inner thigh.  It will take you off balance and out of alignment in the posture.
  2. Do not allow the foot of the bent knee to extend past your hip.  This may put undue pressure on that bent knee.
  3. Ensure you keep your shoulders back and no not allow them to round forward.  Maintain integrity in your spine.
  4. Focus on keeping your  torso extended forward in this forward bend and do not allow your bent knee to fall or roll to one side.
  5. Do not force yourself into the posture if you are not able to bind your arms around your bent leg.  Start with a modification to safely work your way into the full expression of this yoga pose.

Yoga students in an Ashtanga Yoga Mysore style class at the Yoga Shala in Maitland, Florida, with owner Krista Shirley, a level two authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher and Mat Pilates Instructor, adjusting a student in Marichyasana A. The image captures the students' dedication and focus, along with Krista's expertise.

Click here to access our full YouTube yoga tutorial for Marichyasana A

No matter what variation of the pose you choose, move slowly through the posture, acknowledge your limits, and respect your bodies limitations.

Practice with The Yoga Shala

If you want to join us for LIVE classes, The Yoga Shala offers virtual and in person classes every weekday morning.  Owner, Krista Shirley, also offers virtual or in person private sessions (Yoga, Meditation, Breath-work, Nutrition, Life Coaching and Mentorship).  Visit theyogashala.com for details.

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We hope you find this video series helpful to you in creating or maintaining your yoga practice!

About Krista

Krista Shirley is a level II authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher.  She is deeply passionate about sharing these teachings with all who wish to learn.

If you want to join Krista in person she teaches daily classes at The Yoga Shala in Maitland, Florida. She also offers virtual sessions in Yoga, Meditation, Breath-work, Nutrition, Life Coaching and Mentorship.  Check out www.theyogashala.com for more details.

If you do not live in Central Florida and want to find an authorized teacher in your area, check out our teacher, Sharath Jois’ website, for a list of all teachers authorized and certified by his yoga centre in India.

 

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