Vatayanasana / Horse Face Pose

Jan 23rd, 2016

This month’s featured pose is Vatayanasana (pronounced as VAH-tayan-ahsana), or Horse Pose. This pose resembles the face of a horse. The name of the pose is derived from the terms “vataya” or horse, and “asana” or pose.

Vatayanasana is an intermediate yoga asana practice that requires a deep sense of focus and endurance to come into and stay in this pose.

Chakra Awareness

Svadhisthana Chakra / Sacral

Practice Level


Degree of Difficulty (100 being most difficult)



Major Movements

Lateral Rotation of the hip

Commonly called external hip rotation; a hip movement away from the centre of the body, i.e. turning the thigh or pelvis outward.

Movements in the ankle:

Plantar flexion

Extension of the ankle resulting in the top of the foot moving away from the body.

Dorsal flexion

Flexion of the ankle resulting in the top of the foot moving toward the body.

Minor movements

Hip Flexion

A movement of the hip joint muscles done by bringing the thigh or top of the pelvis forward (e.g. thigh moving closer to the abdomen).

Scapular Protraction/Abduction

Moving the scapula away from the midline of the body, having the sensation that the chest muscles are squeezed together.

Challenges Faced During The Practice


Knee pressure

Body coordination

Chances of Injury

Hips, knees or ankles

Loss of balance


Existing hip, knee or ankle injury

Major Muscles Involved

Lateral rotator group

A group of small muscles located in the hip area that is responsible for externally rotating the femur / thigh bone.


The longest muscle in the body, the Sartorius is located in the inner thigh and assists in the external rotation of the hip.


Being one of the strongest muscles of the body, the Gluteus assists in extending the hip and the trunk.

Best Time to Practice

Afternoon, when the body has ample energy to work with balancing poses and flexibility for hip rotation movements.


The below poses warm up the lower body (hips to ankles) in preparation for Vatayanasana.

1. Seated Ankle Stretch (use of block)

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Start from Vajrasana/Diamond pose where the heels are pointing outwards and the hips are sitting on the arches of the feet. Place a block in front of the knees.

Inhale and on exhale, lift the knees off the floor and slide the block underneath the knees, bringing the block under the shins.

Keep the balance by staying upright and holding the knees.

Hold the pose for about 5 breaths and come out of the pose by slowly taking the block out and sitting on the floor.

Benefit: Prepares the ankles for extension in half-lotus position, and for flexion when coming into Vatayanasana.

2. Veerasana / Hero Pose

Come down to the knees and place the hands on the floor in front of the knees. While the knees are hip-width apart, move the feet outwards, wider than hip-width.

Inhale and on exhale, sit on the floor in between the legs. Once the hips are on the floor, pull the abdomen in to keep the back straight.

Place the hands on the knees and stay in this pose for a few deep breaths.

Benefit: Stretches the different leg muscles, starting from the thigh to the ankle.


To read the full article please download our Asana Journal App or purchase Issue 157 January 2016

Asana Journal

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