Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing and teaching yoga for life.

Marichi's Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


Often called the "Sage's Pose," Marichi's Pose is wonderful for stretching out tension in the entire back, opening the shoulders and exercising the abdominals.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations

Marichyasana III

(Pronounced as "mah-REE-chee-YAHS-anna")

The name of this posture comes from the Sage Marichi. Said to be a son of Brahma, Marichi's grandson was Surya, the god of the Sun. Marichi was a great Vedic scholar and leader. Practicing this posture helps to give you all the energy and insights of a great sage like him.

How to do Marichi's Pose

Step One

Sit up straight on your yoga mat in Dandasana. Bend your right knee to pull the right foot toward you. Then place the sole of your right foot on the ground so that the back of your right heel touches your right buttocks. The toes of your right foot should face straight ahead. Press your palms into the ground by the sides of your hips.

Keep your left leg straight by extending through the left heel. Both the toes of the left foot and the left kneecap should point up to the ceiling.

Step Two

Take a deep breath. As you exhale, lift up your spine and chest and then rotate your torso 90 degrees to your right side. Twist from the lower pelvis area. Now move your left arm across your body to the right side so that the arm presses against the outside of the bent right knee. Keep pushing your left arm forward until the back of your left shoulder presses into the outside of your right knee. Keep your weight on your sitting bones and do not let the straightened left leg tilt out to the side.

Step Three

Push your right foot down into the floor and exhale again as you wrap the left arm around the right knee. Pressing the back of the left armpit against the right knee will give you the leverage needed to twist deeper, moving from your waist rather than your chest.

Move your right fingertips closer to your lower back behind you to assist you in lifting your chest up. Visualize elongating your belly up and lengthening the spine with each inhalation. On each exhalation, you can twist just a little bit deeper. You should completely hug your right thigh into your belly.

Step Four

Bend the left elbow and hold the left hand up in the air so that your left hand is about at the same height as your head. Your left forearm and hand will be perpendicular to the floor. Keep equal pressure between the back of your left armpit and the outside of your right knee. If this is easy for you, then twist a little deeper.

Move your right arm against your back as you continue pressing your right hand down on the floor. Then extend your left hand to grab your left shin below the knee while you maintain the pressure of the back of the left upper arm against the right knee. This preparation will train you for the full version of the pose, listed below in the "Deepen the Pose" section.

Hold the posture for at least 30 seconds. Eventually, you will be comfortable enough to stay for up to a minute. Exhale as you untwist and switch the legs to turn to the other side. Hold the pose for the same amount of time on the other side.

Beginner's Tip:

It is important to sit upright without rounding your back. To help you sit up straight without leaning back at all, place one or two folded yoga blankets underneath your sitting bones. This way, you can keep your head and spine in line with the center of your pelvic floor while twisting.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Marichyasana III

Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

Menstruating women should avoid this posture. Pregnant women should seek the personalized advice of a Prenatal Yoga instructor before performing this posture.

Also avoid this pose if you have conditions like:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Migraine
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Dysentery
  5. Cold or viral infection
  6. Insomnia
  7. Severe spinal injuries

Modifications and Props:

If you cannot grasp the hands behind the back, then grasp a yoga belt behind your back instead. Try to pull the belt as tightly between your hands as possible, which will help straighten your posture and gradually allow your hands to reach each other as you become more flexible.

Deepen the Pose:

Perform all the steps listed above to come into the pose. Then on an exhalation, lift your right hand up from the floor behind and reach it behind your back. Bend the left arm and wrap it around the right knee, bringing your left hand behind your back. Bend the right arm and extend it to grab your left hand or wrist behind you. Slowly turn your head to the left and look behind your shoulder.

Therapeutic Applications:

  • Enhances digestion
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Tones abdominal organs
  • Improves circulation to the kidneys, liver, spleen, pancreas and intestines
  • Builds core muscles
  • Reduces backaches

Benefits:

  • Relieves tension in the back after practicing intense backbends
  • Stretches out stiff shoulders
  • Relieves mild hip pain
  • Builds spinal strength
  • Strengthens the neck muscles

Variations:

Typically you'd practice this pose by turning the head toward the direction of the bent knee. However, you can also practice it by rotating the head away from the bent knee, which allows you to wrap the arms around the back even further to grasp your forearm instead of your wrist behind you.

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Big Toe Pose
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Sage Marichi's Pose
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