I hear more sweet sighs of relief when I teach sequences that focus on side-bends than any other posture category. Side-bending in poses like Compass releases tension in the lats, obliques, and QLs, leaving students in a momentary state of suspension where everything feels better than it did a moment ago.
Compass Pose is a deep side bend that differs from its close relatives, Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana and Parivrtta Upavistha Konasana (poses 14 & 15): The upright, regal nature of the pose requires you to engage your core and spinal muscles. Instead of using gravity and laying your torso down into the pose, you have to work a little harder to lift up and lengthen your spine.
To meet these increased demands, this 16-pose sequence will:
1) Open your hamstrings and adductors.
2) Bring your awareness to your core and spinal muscles.
3) Stretch your side-body, including your lats, obliques, and quadratus lumborum muscles.
Here’s a closer look at the logic of my Compass Pose sequence.
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: These three versions of Down Dog will help you settle into your practice and begin opening your body for Compass pose. The one-legged variation of Down Dog will accentuate the stretch in your bottom leg, while the one-legged variation with the twist will provide your first side-bend of the sequence. Feel free to lean back—almost like you’re going to “flip your dog”—and indulge the stretch in your side-body. Stay for as many breaths in these 3 poses as you like.
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