What's a good way to prepare for compass yoga pose? Since the leg is behind the shoulder in this pose you can use yoga poses where the shoulder and leg are in a similiar relationship as preparations.
Since this can be harder with the knee straight, start with postures where the knee is bent.
Compass yoga pose can be thought of as a seated hamstring stretch. However it is also a shoulder stretch and a stretch for the side of the body.
Notice the way that the knee (of the straight leg) points inwards towards the body as opposed to pointing backwards.
You could use binding side angle pose. Notice how the shoulder is close to the knee.
If you can't bind then you can do regular side angle pose and focus on reaching your elbow to the floor. Then roll the top side of your body backwards. Again notice the relationship between shoulder and knee.
If you can't get your elbow close the floor in side angle, you might want to prepare for side angle with low lunge.
Aim to touch your chest to the floor in this hip extensor stretch.
Again notice the relationship between the shoulder and leg in this lunging yoga pose.
Similiar to side angle but with the leg straight is seated wide leg side bend. (not shown.)
You could have the other leg straight, or bend the knee and fold the shin to the inside of the thigh or outside. In the first case the bent leg knee is in the janu sirsana position. In the second case it is in the hero leg position.
This then could be called gate pose.
In any case, you first reach your elbow down to the floor, and then once that touches, then reach your shoulder to the floor.
In all cases notice the direction that your knee is pointing in.
It points towards the body (upwards) not back.
Before you do compass pose you could do this compass pose prep which I use often as a seated hamstring stretch.
You could also do this shoulder stretch. Which part of the shoulder stretch to do you think is relevant to compass pose, the straight arm or the bent arm?
Getting into compass pose relax the shoulder. Imagine reaching both the arm and the leg up and to the side. Once the knee is straight, or as you straighten it, turn the leg inwards so that the knee faces the body. Then once the knee is straight, then use the arm to pull the leg inwards.
Brace the other hand on the floor, and then so that you can get used to doing this pose standing, take the hand off of the floor. But before you do brace the leg with the back of the shoulder.
What do you do after compass pose?
You might find that it feels right to do half lotus forward bend.
Or ardha matsyendrasana.
Or you might like to do an arm balance variation like easy eka pada koundinyasana.
In all of these poses including compass yoga pose, the thigh is close to the shoulder or in front of it. In the poses where the shoulder presses against the leg or vice versa, notice how this changes the overall feeling of your body. When you press one part of your body against another you create differences in the tension network of your body.
The more tuned in to this that you are the better you can utilize this tension to your benefit.
As an example, hopefully you found that relaxing the shoulder of the upper arm made it easier to straighten your leg. And if you tried the arm balance maybe you found that pressing the leg down against the arm made it easier to lift your body.
Tension can be your friend if you learn how to feel it, control it and use it effectively.
Friction and pressure are two simple techniques that I use to help my students get stronger and more flexible. These simple techniques also offer a roadway into not only learning how to activate your muscles, but getting a feel for them and your body. Three challenging yoga poses that I use these techniques in are chaturanga, front splits and side splits. While they might not help you get all the way down into the splits, they'll help you feel stronger, and more integrated as you work towards them. And because I've got to pay for my daughters schooling this week, I'm offering a discount on the frictional muscle control videos. (First 100 people only can save over 30%).
Active stretching teaches you muscle control to not only improve flexibility but also body awareness. You'll learn how to adjust postures for better feel as well as more control through a broader range of motion.
Standing exercises for low back pain plus anatomy that can affect the low back and how to use that anatomical understanding.
Experience your body (and understand it) with sensational yoga poses.
Is it a bad idea to heel strike while barefoot running? What are the possible benefits of heel striking? When should you not heel strike?
These yoga poses for abs work on the abdominal muscles (and hips) in both standing positions and seated positions.
Sensational yoga poses, lessons to help you enjoy the experience of your body.
Here are the Ashtanga Standing Pose Vinyassas, with inhale movements highlighted in red.
These seated yoga poses have been organized into a rough routine and include lotus, virasana, janu sirsasana and marichyasana variations as well as more basic seated poses like bound angle, pigeon and seated forward bend.
In this preparation for compass pose use your arms to pull your leg towards you for a seated hamstring stretch. To modify, use a strap.
Single joint hip flexors include iliacus, pectineus, obturators, gemelli and gluteus minimus. Use them to help improve your forward bends.
Sensational Yoga ebooks and videos are designed to help you experience your body while focusing on specific poses, actions or parts of the body.
Extreme stability teaches you how to work from the ground up when creating stability, whether you are doing poses on your hands or your feet (or some combination of both).
The working towards wheel pose ebook teaches you basic body first so that you can feel and control your spine, hips and shoulders, so that working towards difficult poses (in this case wheel pose) is easier.
The Muscle control for better flexibility ebook teaches you simple muscle activation techniques that can make it easier to improve your flexibility. Techniques focus on forward and back bending the hips but can be applied to other movements also.
Building up on the material for part 1, Yoga for Beginners 2 teaches you how to make your body stable for a slightly different experience of your hips and shoulders.
Video: This set of simple hip control exercises help you to stabilize the hip joint and control it. You may find these exercises help you improve hamstring and hip flexor strength and flexibility.
One approach to learning yoga is to simply practice yoga poses. The approach in Yoga For Beginners 1 is to help you to learn to feel your body while doing yoga poses.
Some of the exercises in Balance Basics includes learning to balance on the fronts of your feet as well as on one foot using weight shifting exercises. It also includes exercises for crow pose. I've included videos based on the balanace exercises in the book on this page.