Marīcyāsana B, also spelled, Marichyasana B (mar-ee-chee-AHS-anna), translates to the Pose Dedicated to the Sage Maricihi. It is the second of four Marīcyāsana poses from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series.
Marichi means, “Ray of Light,” which is one of the aspects of the sun. This is also the name of a sage, Sage Marichi, who was one of the Seven Rishis of the Vedas.
This is the fifteenth pose of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series, and the tenth seated posture in that series. All four Marichyasana poses (A, B, C, D) build upon each other to prepare you for the ones to come. Marichyasana B is very similar to A, but the primary difference between the two being that in B, your non bent leg is in half lotus and not extended in front of you as it is in A. Adding lotus to the bind intensifies the stretch of this posture.
I have written a step-by-step guide for all four of the Marichyasana poses of the Ashtanga Primary Series (Marichyasana A, Marichyasana C and Marichyasana D). Check those out for a deep dive into the intricacies of each posture.
Marichyasana B can be extremely challenging for some students, while being very easy for others. If you have long limbs or open hips, you’ll find this posture much easier to access than if perhaps your limbs are shorter or hips tight. If you have tight hips, be sure to check out the modifications for this pose below.
Marichyasana B really works to open your hips. Additionally, it effectively stretches your shoulders, back and your chest while extending the spine. The pose also stimulates digestion by compressing the abdominal organs and intestines, which can help to relieve gas and constipation.
For women, the heel pressing into the lower abdomen massages the uterus, and practicing this posture consistently can help to strengthen the uterus and menstrual function. And like all forward bends, Marichyasana B reduces stress and helps to calm the mind.
This is a wonderful posture but can be a bit of a challenge if you have tightness in your hips or shoulders. There is a lot to think about in the posture, oppositions of force, stretching, engaging, reaching and folding. Let’s take a step by step look at how to do Marichyasana B.
Step-by-Step Instructions for the Full Expression of Marichyasana B: Right Side
- From Dandasana, or Staff Pose, bring in your left foot into half-lotus.
- Next, bend your right knee up making sure to plant it as close to your hip as you can.
- Extend your right arm forward and reach it around your bent right knee (ensure that your right palm is facing the right and your thumb towards the floor)
- Be sure to bind the arm tight enough that your shin presses into your right armpit so that is very little space between your arm and your knee.
- Reach your left arm behind your back to ‘bind’ your hands together. Be sure to bring the fingers of your hands together, and if possible, grab your wrist.
- With a flat back, begin to extend from your spine to fold forward.
- Breathe here for five deep breaths.
- Actively engage Mula Banda (root lock) with each inhale, and Uddiyana Banda (abdominal lock) with each exhale.
- With every inhale, focus on lifting up and out of your sits bones to extend your body up, and with every exhale focus on engaging your back muscles to keep the shoulders back while hinging from the hips in your forward fold to deepen the posture.
- Throughout the pose, keep pressing your right knee snuggly into your armpit.
- You can either rest your forehead on the floor and look towards Nasagrai Drishti (gaze to your nose), or rest your chin on the floor and look towards Pādayoragre Drishti (gaze to your toes).
- After your fifth deep breath, inhale to lift up, exhale release the bind and your legs, and take your vinyasa.
- Repeat on your left side.
While the step by step instructions are for getting into the full expression of Marichyasana B, there are several wonderful variations or modifications you can take to start where you are and safely work towards the full expression of the posture.
Tap here to watch a step-by-step tutorial video on 4 modifications and the full expression of Marichyasana B
Marichyasana B Modifications:
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.
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.
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 balacning 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t allow your shoulders to round forward. It’s important to maintain integrity in your spine.
- 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.
- 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.
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
Why I love this Pose:
It is such an incredible stretch for your hips and glutes and helps to bring SO much awareness to the importance of engaging your back as you fold your body forward. This posture also really emphasizes the necessity of integrating tensegrity, or oppositions of force into your yoga practice.
Tap below to watch a step-by-step tutorial video on 4 modifications and the full expression of Marīcyāsana B
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