Marichyasana, the Marichi’s Pose, takes its name from the Sanskrit word Marichi, which means a ray of light. In the Indian mythology, Marichi was one of the sons of Brahma, the divine creator, and Marichi was made to become the ruler of the ‘shining ones.’
The Marichyasana itself has four variations, which can get somewhat confusing. The first and the third version have one leg straight on the ground while either folding forward or twisting the torso. The second and the fourth version include folding the bottom leg on the thigh of the bent leg, and performing the same Forward Fold or a twist with the upper body. Marichyasana I is also called Marichyasana A in the Ashtanga Vinyasa System.
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. Avoid this pose if you suffer from any of the following conditions.
How To Do The Marichyasana I : Step-by-Step Instructions
- Start in Dandasana, sitting with your legs straight in front of you. You can fold a blanket underneath your hips, or roll half of the yoga mat to bring your hips a bit higher.
- Bend your right knee, and bring the heel as close to the sitting bone as feels possible. Your right foot is flat on the ground, and the left foot is straight, left knee and toes are pointing up. Press the heel of the left leg onto the floor to activate the back of the leg.
- You can keep a slight internal rotation in the left leg, while the right, bent leg has a slight external rotation. Turn your upper body gently towards the left, so that the right shoulder rotates towards the left leg, and the left shoulder rotates back.
- Inhale your right arm up to shoulder level, and turn the thumb down. Exhale, start folding forward, and bring the right arm from outside your bent leg towards the right outer thigh.
- Inhale, and with an exhalation bring your left arm behind your back, and take a hold of your wrists or fingers behind your back.
- Keeping your back long, and keeping space between your pubic bone and navel, fold more forward. Draw your shoulder blades back towards your hands.
- Stay for 3-6 long breaths.
- To come out, release the hands first, sit up slowly, straighten the leg and take a few breaths before you repeat on the other side.
- If you don’t reach to take a hold of your hands behind your back, you can clasp the fingers together, or use a belt to gain a bit more space. Alternatively, if you have more space, you can clasp your wrists, or try to straighten your elbows a little bit and lower your arms behind you.
- Keep a block or a folded blanket underneath the hips for tight hamstrings.
- This pose should be performed after some preparatory poses including both twists and forward folds.
Because of tightness in the groins, beginners often have difficulty keeping the bent-knee thigh close to the side of the torso. This makes it more difficult to notch the shin into the armpit and wrap the arm around the leg. As you bring the arm forward in preparation for the pose, grip the bent-knee shin with the opposite-side hand and pull the thigh in against the side torso.
Modifications & Variations
- To move more deeply into the forward bend in this pose, it’s helpful for beginning students to sit up high on a bolster or thickly folded blanket. Beginners can also use a strap between the hands if there’s some difficulty in clasping the hands behind the back.
- To deepen the pose, you can increase the stretch in the shoulders and chest and further lengthen the front torso by reaching your hands back away from the torso and straightening your elbows a bit.
Benefits Of The Marichyasana I
- Marichyasana is a forward extension, and as such, it calms the mind and the body.
- It stretches the shoulders, massages the internal organs and improves digestion.
- This pose rotates the pelvis and the shoulders slightly into opposite directions, creating a mild twist in the upper body.
- Stretches and loosens the shoulder muscles.
- Massages the internal organs and glands make them function effectively.
- Opens up the breathing passages.
- Helps to relieve fatigue and rejuvenates the body.
- May help ease menstrual pain.
It is a challenging twisting pose that is best done after the body has been warmed up. Twisting poses help to restore and maintain the suppleness and mobility of the spine. They penetrate deep into the core of the body, massage the internal organs and help to rejuvenate the body.