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Compass Pose (Surya Yantrasana): Steps, Benefits & Modifications

Compass Pose, or Surya Yantrasana, is a beautiful and challenging yoga asana that combines elements of strength, flexibility, and balance. This pose resembles the image of the sun compass, a navigation tool used by ancient sailors. Just like the sun guides them on their journeys, Compass Pose leads us on a path of self-discovery and inner alignment.

Compass Pose (Surya Yantrasana)

"Surya" translates to "Sun" in Sanskrit, representing the radiant energy and vitality embodied in this pose. "Yantra" refers to the geometrical patterns or mystical diagrams that help focus the mind during meditation. Together, Compass Pose invites us to harness the sun's power and the meditative qualities of a yantra to find our true direction.

Surya Yantrasana is pronounced as "SOOR-yuh yahn-TRAHS-uh-nuh."

Compass Pose primarily targets the hip flexors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles of the chest and shoulders. It also engages the core, helping to build stability and balance. Energetically, this pose stimulates the Manipura (Solar Plexus) chakra, igniting our inner fire and confidence.

How to Perform Compass Pose (Surya Yantrasana)

  1. Begin in a seated position with your legs extended in front of you.

  2. Bend your right knee and draw it toward your chest, keeping your right foot flexed.

  3. Slide your right arm underneath your right knee, reaching around to hold the outer edge of your right foot.

  4. Slowly lift your right foot off the floor, finding balance on your sitting bones.

  5. Gently extend your right leg out to the right side, aiming for a 90-degree angle or as far as your body allows.

  6. Your left leg can either stay extended or bend at the knee, supporting your balance.

  7. Lift your chest and open your heart towards the sky, allowing your spine to lengthen.

  8. Find a steady drishti (gaze point) to help maintain your balance.

  9. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for several breaths.

  10. To release, slowly bring your right leg back to the center and extend both legs in front of you.

Compass Pose (Surya Yantrasana)

When to do it

Compass Pose can be practiced during the morning or late afternoon when the sun's energy is most potent. It's also great to include in your pre-meditation or pranayama routine.

Preparatory Poses

Before attempting Compass Pose, warm up with poses like Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose), and Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) to open the hips and shoulders.

Follow up Poses

Follow up Compass Pose with hip-opening poses like Pigeon Pose and deep forward bends like Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) to release any residual tension.


Compass Pose is connected to the Manipura (Solar Plexus) chakra, representing personal power and self-confidence. This pose helps ignite the inner fire and boost our sense of self.

 Manipura (Solar Plexus) chakra

Mantra for this Pose

While in Compass Pose, you can recite the mantra "Om Ram" to activate the energy of the Solar Plexus and enhance your focus and strength.

Alignment Cues

  • Keep your spine long and tall, avoiding any rounding in the back.

  • Engage your core to stabilize the pose.

  • Open your chest and draw your shoulders away from your ears.

  • Flex your foot to protect the knee joint and deepen the stretch in your hamstring.

Duration of Hold

As a challenging pose, start by holding Compass Pose for 5 to 10 breaths on each side. With practice, gradually increase the duration.


Find a steady gaze either at a point in front of you or up towards the sky to aid in maintaining your balance and focus.

Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Compass Pose demands both physical and spiritual awareness. Pay attention to your breath, and the sensations in your body, and embrace the meditative qualities of the pose.

Beginners’ Tips

If you're new to Compass Pose, use a strap around your foot to help extend the leg comfortably. Start with a more open angle and work towards a deeper stretch gradually.

Who should not do it

Avoid Compass Pose if you have recent or chronic hip, knee, or lower back injuries. Pregnant individuals should also skip this pose due to its intensity.

Who should do it

Intermediate to advanced practitioners with a good range of hip flexibility and strength can explore Compass Pose. If you feel confident in hip-opening poses like Pigeon Pose, you're ready to give it a try.

Benefits of Compass Pose (Surya Yantrasana)

  1. Increases hip flexibility and strength.

  2. Stretches the quadriceps and hamstrings.

  3. Tones the core muscles and improves balance.

  4. Opens the chest, shoulders, and heart space.

  5. Energizes the Manipura chakra, boosting self-confidence.

  6. Cultivates focus and concentration.

  7. Invites a sense of grace and fluidity.

Modifications for Compass Pose (Surya Yantrasana)

  • If reaching the foot is challenging, loop a strap around the foot, holding onto the strap with both hands to gradually extend the leg.

  • For a gentler variation, perform the pose while seated on a block to provide extra support and lift.

Common Mistakes

Avoid collapsing your chest or rounding your back. Maintain a tall spine throughout the pose and avoid straining the neck.

Safety and Precautions

Refrain from forcing the pose; listen to your body and respect its limitations. Always warm up before attempting Compass Pose.

Additional Preparation Tips

  • Direction to face while doing this pose and why: Face the east to embrace the energizing energy of the rising sun and to symbolize a new beginning in your practice.

  • What to wear for this pose: Wear comfortable, flexible clothing that allows for ease of movement.

  • Suitable place and essential oil or fragrance: Practice Compass Pose in a quiet, well-ventilated space with enough room for movement. Consider using energizing essential oils like citrus or bergamot to enhance your practice.

  • Music for this Pose: Play uplifting and calming music to set the mood for your Compass Pose journey.

Compass Pose is a beautiful dance of strength, balance, and grace, guiding us toward our inner compass and illuminating our path with the radiant energy of the sun. Embrace the challenge, honor your body, and let Compass Pose lead you on a transformative journey of self-discovery and spiritual alignment.

Happy yoga-ing, everyone!


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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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