Yoga Poses

6 Steps to Master Marichyasana I (Great Sage Pose I)

Iyengar Yoga teacher Lucienne Vidah explains these 6 simple steps to mastering Marichyasana I, or Great Sage Pose I.

Next in YOGAPEDIA 3 Ways to Modify Marichyasana I (Great Sage Pose I)

Marichyasana I
Marichi = Named after the Sage Marichi, son of the Creator Brahma · Asana = pose

Great Sage Pose I

Benefits: Stretches your hamstrings and glutes; awakens your torso; promotes circulation in your abdominal organs; develops introspection


1. Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your legs stretched out in front of you, arms by your sides, palms down on the mat. Press into your hands, and engage your triceps to lengthen your arms. Lift the sides of your trunk. Stretch your legs by moving your calf muscles toward your heels, pushing your heels forward. 

2. Bend your left leg, and bring your knee toward your chest. Place your left foot on the mat so it’s parallel to your right thigh and close to your left buttock. Interlock your fingers around the top of your left shin, and lift your elbows to armpit height to pull up your side ribs. On an inhalation, lift the sides of your torso from your hips to your armpits; on the exhalation, press your buttocks down.

3. Maintain length in your sides and stretch your arms toward the ceiling as you would in Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute). 

4. Extend forward from your hip joints and lower your arms to hold your right foot with both hands. Lift your head slightly, and pull your sides forward and up. Take a breath. Redistribute your weight over both buttocks, and press your left foot down on the floor. On an inhalation, use your hands to pull on your right foot to extend your trunk farther forward. On the exhalation, descend your torso over your right leg. Try to go down as far as possible, especially with your left side, armpit, and shoulder. Stay for 3 breaths. 

5. With your left arm, reach around and behind your left leg, and swing your right arm behind your back to bring your hands together. If possible, grip your right wrist bone with your left hand, creating a solid clasp.

6. Keep your shoulders parallel, and breath by breath develop the forward bending action: Imagine that your inhalation reaches the skin of your entire back—and that your exhalation ends deep down in your pelvis. As the resistance in your back muscles eases, see if you can place your chin on your shin or knee. Remain here for about 30 seconds. Release your arms gradually; take a few deep breaths, and repeat on the other side.

See also Master Padmasana (Lotus Pose) in 6 Steps

Avoid These Mistakes

Marichyasana I
Zev Starr-Tambor

DON’T strain to bind. If you try to bind before you’re able to forward bend, this will jettison your torso away from your straight leg, causing undue strain on your lower back, shoulders, and neck.

See also 10 Ways to Get Real About Your Body’s Limitations & Avoid Yoga Injuries

Marichyasana I
Zev Starr-Tambor

DON’T collapse your torso, rolling toward the outside of your extended leg. This can set you up for spinal injury. Instead, use the bind of your hands to steer it forward. 

See also Looking for a Refresh? Try a Reclining Twist

About Our Pro
Teacher and model Lucienne Vidah is an intermediate senior I Iyengar Yoga teacher and faculty member at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York. She founded Studio Spine in 1999, which is now a private space that offers Iyengar Yoga and body therapy sessions focused on aligning your fascial network.