Yoga has been a profound practice that encompasses physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions. Among its various forms, Ashtanga Yoga stands out for its structured series of postures designed to bring about holistic well-being. One of the intriguing poses within the Ashtanga Primary Series is Marichyasana B, a pose that embodies strength, flexibility, and inner exploration. In this blog post, we delve into the intricacies of Marichyasana B, its benefits, step-by-step guide, and the deeper essence it brings to your yoga practice.

Marichyasana B (mar-ee-chee-AHS-anna), also spelled Marīcyāsana B, translates to Pose Dedicated to the Sage Maricihi.  Marichyasana B is the second of four total Marichyasana poses from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. This seated twist/roatation is known for its therapeutic effects on the spine, shoulders, hips, and digestive system. It requires a harmonious blend of strength, flexibility, and concentration, making it an integral part of the series that facilitates the deepening of one’s practice.

This is the fifteenth posture from Ashtanga Yoga’s Primary series, and the tenth seated posture.  All of the Marichyasana poses (A, B, C, D) build upon each other, which prepares the practitioner for the postures that follow.  Marichyasana B is similar to Marichyasana A, but in B position, one of your legs goes into half lotus.  Adding lotus to the posture intensifies the stretch and complexity of this asana.

If you would like to learn more about all four of the Marichyasana poses, I have written a step-by-step guide for all four Marichyasana’s  (Marichyasana A, Marichyasana C and Marichyasana D).

Krista Shirley, a Level 2 authorized Ashtanga yoga teacher and owner of The Yoga Shala in Maitland, Florida, performs the full expression of Marichyasana B from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series in her home in College Park. She sits on a yoga mat with her right leg bent and foot flat on the mat, while her left leg is in half-lotus position. Her torso twists deeply to the right, with her left arm wrapping around her bent right leg and her right hand reaching behind her back to clasp her left hand. The room is warm and inviting, with soft lighting and personal touches such as plants and cozy furnishings.

Click here to watch a full yoga tutorial on Marichyasana B

Benefits of Marichyasana B

Spinal Health:

Marichyasana B offers a revitalizing twist to the spine, promoting its mobility and flexibility. It helps in maintaining the health of the intervertebral discs and the surrounding muscles.

Digestive Well-being:

The twisting motion massages the abdominal organs, aiding digestion and improving metabolism. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals dealing with digestive issues.

Detoxification:

Twists in yoga are often associated with detoxification. Marichyasana B stimulates the lymphatic system, aiding in the elimination of toxins from the body.

Hip Flexibility:

This pose involves a deep external rotation of the hip joint, enhancing its flexibility and relieving tension in the hips.

Shoulder Mobility:

Marichyasana B demands an intricate interplay of shoulder movement. As you bind your hands behind your back, the pose opens up the chest and shoulders, releasing any built-up tension.

Concentration and Mindfulness:

Holding the pose requires focused attention on the breath and body alignment, cultivating mindfulness and deepening the mind-body connection.

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.

Contraindications

While Marichyasana B offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to practice yoga with awareness of your body’s limitations and any potential contraindications. Some individuals might need to modify or avoid certain poses based on their physical conditions. Here are some contraindications and considerations for practicing Marichyasana B:

Recent Abdominal Surgery:

If you’ve had abdominal surgery, especially involving the digestive organs, it’s advisable to avoid deep twists like Marichyasana B until you’ve fully healed. Twisting could strain the healing tissues and impede recovery.

Spinal Issues:

Individuals with severe spinal issues, such as herniated discs or acute back pain, should approach this pose with caution. Twists can exacerbate these conditions. It’s wise to consult a healthcare professional or experienced yoga teacher before attempting this pose.

Shoulder or Arm Injuries:

If you have shoulder, elbow, or wrist injuries, the bind in Marichyasana B might be challenging or detrimental. Modify the pose with one of the four variations offered below.

Hip Problems:

If you’re dealing with hip injuries or inflammation, approach the hip rotation required for this pose carefully. Be cautious and avoid forcing the movement that could worsen your condition.

Pregnancy:

As the abdominal area is involved in the twist, pregnant individuals should approach Marichyasana B with caution. It’s often recommended to avoid deep twists during pregnancy to prevent strain on the abdominal muscles and the developing fetus.

High Blood Pressure:

Deep twists can momentarily raise blood pressure. If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, consult a medical professional before practicing Marichyasana B.

Vertigo or Dizziness:

The twisting motion might trigger dizziness or vertigo in some individuals. If you’re prone to these sensations, it’s better to avoid deep twists.

Limited Range of Motion:

If you’re new to yoga or have limited flexibility, especially in the hips or shoulders, you might find Marichyasana B challenging. Work with your body’s current abilities and gradually progress with consistent practice.  Be sure to explore the modifications offered below.

Beginner Level:

If you’re a beginner in yoga, it’s a good idea to practice under the guidance of an experienced teacher. They can help you understand proper alignment, modifications, and progressions.

Pre-existing Conditions:

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions that might be affected by deep twists, it’s wise to consult your healthcare provider before attempting Marichyasana B or any other yoga pose.

Remember that yoga is about honoring your body’s needs and limitations. If Marichyasana B isn’t accessible to you due to any of these contraindications, there are always alternative poses that can offer similar benefits without the associated risks. Always prioritize safety and listen to your body during your yoga practice. If in doubt, seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional.

Krista Shirley, a Level 2 authorized Ashtanga yoga teacher and owner of The Yoga Shala in Maitland, Florida, demonstrates the full expression of Marichyasana B from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series at The Yoga Shala against a white background. Krista's serene and focused expression reflects her deep connection with the practice. She sits on a yoga mat with her right leg bent and foot flat on the mat, while her left leg is in half-lotus position. Her torso twists deeply to the right, with her left arm wrapping around her bent right leg and her right hand reaching behind her back to clasp her left hand. Krista's precise alignment and graceful posture showcase her expertise in Ashtanga Yoga.

Click here to watch a full yoga tutorial on Marichyasana B

Step-by-Step Instructions for the Full Expression of Marichyasana B with Sanskrit Vinyasa Count

We will be entering this posture from downward facing dog, having just taken a vinyasa after Marichyasana A 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.  Inhale as you bring your left leg on your right thigh in a half lotus position.  From there, bend your right knee up and plant your right foot close to your right hip. Stretch your right arm forward and wrap it around your bent right knee (ensure that your right palm is facing the right and your thumb towards the floor). Bind the arm tight enough around your right leg that your shin presses into your right armpit.  We want very little space between the arm and the knee. Stretch your left arm behind your back to bind your hands together.  If possible, grab your wrist.

Asthau (Vinyasa #8) Exhale and begin to extend forward and downward.  Keep your back as flat as possible.  Take five deep breaths here. Engage your root lock, Mula Banda, with each inhale.  With each exhale, engage your abdominal lock, Uddiyana Banda. Focus on lifting up and out of your sits bones to extend your body up as you breathe in.  And on your exhalations, focus on engaging your back to keep the shoulders back while you work to hinge or fold from your hips.  The constant activation through the posture will help you deepen your body in the pose.

TIP:

  1. Throughout the five breaths in Marichyasana B, continuously press your right knee snuggly into your armpit.
  2. You may either bring your forehead on the floor and look towards Nasagrai Drishti (gaze to your nose), or you can rest your chin on the floor and look towards Pādayoragre Drishti (gaze to your toes).

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.  Inhale as you bring your right leg on your left thigh in a half lotus position.  From there, bend your left knee up and plant your left foot close to your right hip. Stretch your left arm forward and wrap it around your bent left knee (ensure that your left palm is facing the left and your thumb towards the floor). Bind the arm tight enough around your left leg that your shin presses into your left armpit.  We want very little space between the arm and the knee. Stretch your right arm behind your back to bind your hands together.  If possible, grab your wrist.

Pancadasa (Vinyasa #15) Exhale and begin to extend forward and downward.  Keep your back as flat as possible.  Take five deep breaths here. Engage your root lock, Mula Banda, with each inhale.  With each exhale, engage your abdominal lock, Uddiyana Banda. Focus on lifting up and out of your sits bones to extend your body up as you breathe in.  And on your exhalations, focus on engaging your back to keep the shoulders back while you work to hinge or fold from your hips.  The constant activation through the posture will help you deepen your body in the pose.

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 watch a step-by-step tutorial video on 4 modifications and the full expression of Marichyasana B

Marichyasana B Modifications:

Variation 1: 

If you are not yet able to take half-lotus posture, start with this modification.  Start in Dandasana.  Bend your right knee up and bring your ankle on top of your right quadricep, just above your right knee.  Flex your left foot.

Bring your hand to the floor behind you and take five deep breaths here.  Work to sit up tall, lift up out of your lower back.  Keep your upper back engaged and your chest open.  Remember to engage your bandhas as you breathe.  After your fifth breath, gently release the pose and take a vinyasa.  Repeat on your left side.

Variation 2:

In this variation, start by brining your left leg into half lotus.  Make sure your foot does not come past your right thigh (it puts undue pressure on your left knee). From there, gently draw your right leg up, bend your right knee.  If that is a very intense stretch on your left foot, shin or ankle, stay here for sometime.

Take five breaths here, either with your hands on the floor behind you, or to your side.  Work with your breath to press your pelvis forward as you ground your hips and continue to slightly flex your left foot to ensure you do not over stretch your left ankle.  After your fifth breath, gently stretch your right leg out, release the left leg in half-lotus, and take a vinyasa.  Repeat on your left side.

Variation 3:

If you are able to comfortably do Variation #2, and you’ve been able to bring your right foot closer to your glute, you can begin moving into variation #3.  Start as you did with variation #2 and check to see if you can balance there in space without your hands on the floor.  If you can do that, work to lift up out of your sits bones so you are balancing on your left glute.  Squeeze your inner left thigh to keep your half-lotus from drifting too far to the left.

From there, as you ground down into your left (half-lotus leg) and your right foot, begin to slowly stretch your torso forward over your half lotus leg.  Bring your hands to the floor and breathe here for five deep breaths.  After your fifth breath, inhale to lengthen, exhale gently stretch your right leg out and release your half lotus.  Take your vinyasa.  Repeat on your left side.

Variation 4:

This variation is VERY close to the full expression.  Bring your left leg into half lotus and bend your right knee up.  Reach your right arm forward and wrap it around your bent right leg.  At the same time, reach your left arm behind your body and work to bind your hands together. Maybe you just find your fingers, that’s ok.

Your goal is to squeeze your upper back muscles to open your chest and draw your hands closer to one another. Squeeze your thighs, ground through your right foot, lengthen your spine, extend out through your neck and begin to fold forward towards the floor.  If you are not able to bring your forehead or chin to the floor without rounding your upper back, do not fold yet.  Just keep extending your body in space as you engage your back, thighs, bandhas and keep a steady deep breath.

Eventually, you’ll be able to bind your left wrist with your right hand.  Take five deep breaths here. After your fifth breath, inhale to lengthen your spine up, exhale and release the bind, stretch your right leg out and release your half lotus.  Take your vinyasa.  Repeat on the left side.

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

A yoga student at The Yoga Shala, located at 140 Maitland Drive #4, Maitland, Florida, performs the full expression of Marichyasana B from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. The student sits on a yoga mat with the right leg bent and foot flat on the mat, the left leg in half-lotus position, and the torso twisted deeply to the right, with the left arm wrapping around the right leg and the right hand clasping the left hand behind the back. The studio is bright and tranquil, offering a perfect environment for practice. The Yoga Shala specializes in Mysore style Ashtanga yoga and offers daily classes. Join us for a class.

Click here to watch a full yoga tutorial on Marichyasana B

Common Mistakes

It is important that you practice this and every posture mindfully so you get the most out of the posture and ensure you do not hurt yourself.

  1. Do not allow the foot of the bend knee to extend past your hip (too wide), because it can put undue pressure on that bent knee.
  2. Make sure your foot in half-lotus does NOT come past the thigh of the opposite leg.  It can put undue pressure on the knee of the half-lotus leg.
  3. Make sure you DO NOT allow your half-lotus leg to drift out too far to the side.  Activate and squeeze your inner thigh to keep the half-lotus tight.
  4. Don’t allow your shoulders to round forward.  It’s important to maintain integrity in your spine.
  5. Don’t allow your bent knee to fall or roll to one side and work to keep your torso extended forward in this forward bend.
  6. If you are not able to get into half-lotus and/or bind your arms around your bent leg, do not force yourself into the posture.  Start with one of the variations instead and slowly and safely work your way into the full expression of this yoga pose.

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

Preparatory Postures:

Ardha Baddha Padma Paścimottānāsana – https://youtu.be/LaBIrCHRBJ4

Ardha Padmasana – https://youtu.be/lOUduZu4G6k

Padmasana – https://youtu.be/lOUduZu4G6k

Yoga Mudrasana – https://youtu.be/lOUduZu4G6k

Finding the Deeper Essence

Beyond the physical benefits, Marichyasana B offers an opportunity for self-discovery and growth. The pose’s challenging nature encourages practitioners to confront their limitations with patience and humility. The journey towards attaining the full expression of the pose is a process that mirrors the broader journey of life – embracing challenges, adapting, and progressing at one’s own pace.

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. We are located at 140 Circle Drive #4, Maitland, Florida. 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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