Matsyendrasana: Seated Spinal Twist

POSE: Spinal Twist

SANSKRIT NAME: Matsyendrasana

BENEFITS: stimulates digestion, energizing, opens the chest and shoulders, promotes spinal health

CONTRAINDICATIONS: back injury, severe scoliosis (talk to your doctor first), diarrhea

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HOW TO: There are many ways to practice twists. For a simple spinal twist, be seated on the floor with the legs straight in front of you. Bend the right knee. Sit up tall. Engage your core muscles and use your core to begin twisting toward your right leg. Wrap your left elbow around your right knee and stretch your right hand behind you to deepen and stabilize the twist. Keep the spine tall, shoulders relaxed. The neck should be comfortable, gaze is toward the right shoulder or straight ahead. If you start to notice yourself holding your breath, you may be twisting too deeply and need to back out a bit. Hold for 5-10 full breaths, and on an exhale release the twist. Be sure to practice on both sides.

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MODIFICATION: Seated Twist in a Chair

BENEFITS: stimulates digestion, energizing, opens the chest and shoulders, promotes spinal health, using a chair may be easier for sensitive joints

HOW TO: Sit in a chair with the feet flat on the floor, ankles directly under the knees. Lift the right foot and cross the right leg over left. Sit up tall. Engage your core muscles and use your core to begin twisting toward your right leg. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right arm takes hold of the back of the chair to stabilize and deepen the twist. Keep the spine tall, shoulders relaxed. The neck should be comfortable, gaze is toward the right shoulder or straight ahead. If you start to notice yourself holding your breath, you may be twisting too deeply and need to back out a bit. Hold for 5-10 full breaths, and on an exhale release the twist. Be sure to practice on both sides.

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POSE ALTERNATIVE: Supine Twist

BENEFITS: stimulates digestion, relaxing, restorative, opens the chest and shoulders, promotes spinal health, may be a better option for people with dizziness or headaches

HOW TO: Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees bent. Drop the knees over to the left side. You may place a pillow between the knees for added comfort. Stretch the right arm out to the side and place the left hand on top of the knees. Gaze can be straight ahead, or you may turn your head to look over your right shoulder. Hold for 5-10 full breaths, and on an exhale release the twist. Be sure to practice on both sides.

 

Ready to incorporate this pose into your practice? Try this video...