In Light on Yoga,Â Iyengar explains that Marichyasana IV (Pose Dedicated to the Sage, Marichi, IV) is a combination of Marichyasana II and Marichyasana III. This yoga pose registers as 11* on Iyengar’s 60* scale of difficulty.
Many asanas represent a combination or culmination of several yoga poses. Marichyasana IV encompasses both the hip and groin opening required in Marichyasana II and the deep twist of Marichyasana III. To perform the pose fully, as Iyengar does, you must create a great deal of opening in the lotus leg and a great deal of spinal flexibility for the twist. You will discover which of these two elements require more of your attention and focus when you begin to combine the two.
Because I have flexible hips, placing my foot into half lotus is fairly easy. But, twisting my spine enough to take the bind isn’t yet possible. So, I focus on isolating the part of the pose that most needs my attention: spinal and shoulder flexibility. Rather than forcing myself into a contorted and misshapen Marichyasana IV, I back off from the parts of the pose that challenge me the greatest so I can focus in on gently creating more space and openness where there is little.
Perhaps your struggle with the pose will be the opposite of mine. If so, take the bind and work with gently opening your hip toward half lotus. Toy with various placements of the lotus leg. Perhaps that foot can rest higher up your leg, closer to your knee, with your foot flexed. Perhaps you can come to half lotus, resting your knee on a block rather than near the floor.
As with so many combination yoga poses, draw upon your innate strengths to solidify a foundation, then explore the more challenging aspects from there. Most importantly, celebrate that which you can do. And remain curious about that which currently eludes you.