Vatayanasana (Horse Face Pose)

Iyengar's difficulty rating: 11* out of 60*

Iyengar's Technique:

  1. Sit on the floor. Bend your L knee, externally rotate your hip, and place your foot against the root of your R thigh in half lotus (Ardha Padma) position.
  2. Place your hands on the floor beside your hips. On an exhale, lift yourself up and place your L knee on the floor and your R foot close to your L knee. Keep your R thigh parallel to the floor (in other words, R hip at the same height as R knee).
  3. Move your pelvis forward rather than allowing your hips to sink back and down. Lift your hands off the floor and extend your spine to become as upright as possible.
  4. Bend your elbows and raise your arms to chest-height. Wrap your L arm under your R arm so that your elbows cross. Then bring your hands towards one another and place your R fingers on your L palm. Your arms are now intertwined.
  5. Remain in this shape for 30 seconds. Balance and breathe normally.
  6. Release yourself back down to the floor slowly and carefully before attempting the other side.

Comparing Forms:

  • Iyengar is capable of placing his R heel right next to his L knee. I cannot do this without lifting my heel and externally rotating my R leg dramatically. Some of this may be anatomical and impossible to change; my femurs (upper legs) are relatively long compared to my tibias (lower legs). With his longer tibia, notice how Iyengar is able to flex his ankle and rest the top of his foot on his opposite thigh. I cannot do this because my ankle falls well below my thigh.
  • Though it's hard to tell from the pictures above, I am letting my hips move backwards somewhat to assist my balance and protect my weak knee. Staying more upright, as Iyengar suggests in his technique, is a struggle but deepens the stretch and creates a stronger balance in the long run.
  • Iyengar is relaxing his elbows down below his GH (shoulder) joints. I am actively lifting my elbows up to shoulder-height or higher.