Step-by-Step Yoga Pose: Figure 4

Seasons are in flux and you may find yourself swept away by all of the change surrounding you. That’s why it’s an ideal time of year to launch a grounding self-care practice. We’re excited to bring you our Yoga Pose series to inspire you to root and rise. Check back each week for a new yoga pose to aspire to!

Figure 4 Pose

Alias: Standing Galavasana (“Galava” is a sage in Yogic history)

What’s up with Figure 4?

This week we’re stepping up the challenge with Figure 4 pose. In Figure 4, you’ll combine the body position you learned last week practicing Utkatasana/Chair Pose and the balance you learned during the first week with Vrksasana/Tree Pose to open up your hips. Learning to find physical balance can help you find balance in other aspects of your life.

Benefits of Figure 4 Pose:

  • Strengthen quadriceps, ankle and foot muscles
  • Tone the core
  • Stretch the outer hip and glute muscles
  • Relieve lower back tension
  • Practice balance and concentration—great for helping you find balance in other aspects of your life
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Supported variation

Getting into the posture:

  • First come into chair pose. To do this, start standing with feet brought together to touch.
  • Rock your weight mostly to the back part of the feet.
  • Pick one, unmoving point to focus on (drsti in Sanskrit).
  • Shift your weight back, bend the knees and bring your hips down as if sitting into a chair.
  • Check to make sure you can see your toes. Move your knees back until you can see the toes. This will help protect the lower back.
  • Shift weight into the right foot and begin to lift the left knee up.
  • Cross left ankle over right thigh, slightly above the knee (avoid placing ankle directly on the knee).
  • Bring hands to heart (prayer pose). Keep the back straight and core engaged as you slightly hinge at the hips. Hips move slightly back before settling.
  • Balance & breathe. Stay in pose for 15 seconds–1 minute.
  • To exit the pose, place left foot back on floor.
  • Stand up and release arms down to your sides.
  • Repeat as desired to develop balance, strength and release tight hips (especially important if you spend a lot of time sitting or if you are an athlete).

Tips for success:

  • Bring your weight back to help maintain balance.
  • Strengthen through the standing leg so it stays more straightly aligned (you don’t want the hip to jut too far out to the side!).
  • Keep the neck straight in line with the spine (neither too far forward nor too far back).
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Reclining variation

Variations/Modifications:

  • Stand near a wall or railing and use the support to help with balance.
  • Practice the pose lying down (Reclining Figure 4 pose/supta eka pada galavasana).
    • Lie on your back. Brings knees toward chest. Cross left ankle over right knee. Loop your hands behind the right thigh and gently pull the legs closer to your chest to feel the stretch in the outer left hip. Keep left toes lightly flexed toward the face to protect the knee.
  • Advanced practitioners:
    • Bring your fingers to rest on the ground and feel a deeper stretch through the hip.
    • Hold the standing ankle with both hands for an additional balance challenge.
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Folded variation

Contraindications (i.e., things to keep in mind):

  • If you have a history of touchy knees or ankles, try practicing Figure 4 lying down.
  • Lower back pain: If the pose begins to irritate your low back, check to make sure the belly is pulled in and you are using your abdominal muscles. If that does not immediately alleviate the pressure, come out of the pose and try the reclined variation.

Nice work! Remember that learning to balance your body and your priorities (work, friends, family, hobbies) can lead to a greater feeling of openness and release. Please feel free to comment below and let us know your favorite yoga pose or how you experienced this one.

*The term asana means “posture/pose” in the physical yoga practice.

Natalie Sober is a yoga enthusiast who is inspired to share her knowledge. Natalie completed her first RYT-200 hour yoga teacher training course in Telkot, Nepal, in the Sanatan style of yoga. She is currently pursuing her second RYT-200 certification in the Power Vinyasa style. She also happens to be the newest member of Pharmaca’s marketing department.

*Please consult your physician before beginning this series or any exercise program. As always, your body is the best teacher so listen to the cues it gives regarding whether or not a pose is a good idea.

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