Fire Log Pose is a seated yoga posture that provides a deep stretch to the outer hips. It is also referred to by various English names, including "Knee-to-Ankle Pose," "Double Pigeon," and "Square Pose."
However, its Sanskrit name, "Agnistambhasana" (AG-nee-stahm-BAHS-uh-nuh), comes from three words:
- "Agni" — meaning "fire"
- "Stambha" — meaning "statue," "stack," or "pillar"
- "Asana" — meaning "pose"
It literally translates to "Fire Stack Pose," possibly referring to stacks of logs used for bonfires in India.
This pose requires flexibility in the lower body, including the outer hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, lower back, and glutes. It is often practiced toward the end of a yoga class when the body is warm and limber. Be sure to include hip-opening poses in your practice before trying Fire Log Pose. Some good ones to try include Bound Angle/Cobbler's Pose (Baddha Konasana) and Eye of the Needle Pose.
Benefits of Fire Log Pose
This pose provides a deep stretch to the hips, opening the outer hips and buttocks. It also stretches and strengthens the groins, thighs, calves, and abdominal muscles. This pose gently stimulates the abdominal organs, which helps to regulate digestion and metabolism.
Sitting upright with your spine aligned calms the mind and relieves anxiety and mental tension. It also helps to prepare the practitioner for meditation and breathing exercises (called "pranayama" in Sanskrit). Regularly practicing this pose can be therapeutic for stress.
The physical practice serves as a catalyst for deeper perception. That's one of the greatest parts of hatha yoga — when you are seeking equilibrium in asana, it wakes up the soul.
Avoid practicing this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to the knees, hips, or lower back. Fire Log Pose requires flexibility and self-awareness to be performed correctly. Do not attempt to learn Fire Log Pose on your own without the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable instructor. It is very easy to injure your knees and lower back if you try to move into it too soon. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Sit on the floor with your legs extended, spine straight, and arms resting at your sides. This is Seated Staff Pose (Dandasana).
- Bend your right knee and hug it to your chest. Then bring your right ankle to rest just above your left kneecap.
- Bend your left knee. Slide your left shin beneath your right shin, bringing your left ankle directly underneath your right knee.
- If it's possible for you, then slide your right ankle a little more to the left until the ankle rests on your left knee. Your right foot will hover over the floor, to the side of your left knee.
- Work toward bringing your shins parallel to the top edge of your mat, keeping your right shin stacked directly above your left shin. Both shins should be at 90-degree angles to each thigh.
- Flex your feet and press through your heels. Spread your toes.
- Press your groins toward the floor and sit up straight. Keep the front of your torso long.
- Rest your fingertips on the floor at either side of your body. Those who are more flexible can walk their hands forward along the floor, folding their torso over their crossed legs.
- Soften your face and bring your gaze to your "third eye," the space between your eyebrows.
- Hold for up to one minute.
- Release the pose by very slowly and gently extending both legs along the floor into Staff Pose. Repeat the pose for the same amount of time with the opposite leg on top. Then release the pose and return to Staff Pose.
Modifications & Variations
Fire Log Pose can be difficult for those with tight hips. It can be challenging to find the correct alignment and hold the pose! Be sure to make whatever modifications you need to feel safe, supported, and steady in the pose. Here are a few suggestions:
- If your bottom knee doesn't rest on the floor, support it with a folded, firm blanket.
- If your top knee sits far from your bottom ankle, place a folded blanket between your knee and ankle for extra support.
- If you are not yet able to perform Fire Log Pose, practice Eye of the Needle Pose until you have gained the flexibility and strength needed. If Eye of the Needle Pose is difficult, try Easy Pose (Sukhasana) first.
- If your hips are tight, you can release the stretch slightly by bringing your feet closer to your hips; this reduces the angles between your shins and thighs. You can also reduce the stretch by bringing your knees further apart, so your feet rest on your shins toward the inside of each knee.
- If your hips are very tight, do not sit flat on the floor! Prop yourself up on a blanket or two. Doing so will reduce the stress and discomfort in your hips, knees, and back. It will also open your groins further and bring your spine into correct alignment; this will help you to stay in the position for longer periods.
- For those with extremely tight hips, practice the pose seated in a chair. Leaving one foot flat on the floor, cross the opposite ankle over the knee of the grounded foot. Hold the pose for up to one minute, and then repeat on the opposite side.
- For more back support, sit with your back against a wall. Another variation is to place a yoga block between the wall and your shoulder blades.
- To deepen the stretch, press your hands against your feet. Then with your feet, resist against your hands as you fold forward.
Practicing Fire Log Pose in correct alignment will automatically begin to release your hips and calm your mind. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Keep your pelvis in a neutral position, balancing equally on both sit bones.
- Be sure to change the cross of your legs, not favoring one side or the other. Hold the pose for the same length of time on each side.
- Keep your spine vertical throughout the pose. The crown of your head should maintain its alignment directly over your tailbone.
- Keep the front of your torso long and your collarbones broad throughout the pose. Do not overly round your back or hunch your shoulders.
Cool Your Fire
Agnistambhasana can provide a deep release to your hips, which can feel good, but it can also feel intense. Be sure to keep correct alignment throughout the pose and ease up if you feel any pinching or jarring pain, particularly in your knees or back. When you are holding the pose in proper form — using whatever props and modifications you need — you will gain all of the benefits of this pose!