While life can often leave me feeling all twisted up, there is great benefit to be had from the conscious practice of twisting poses on the mat. Not only are these poses beneficial for the spine and the musculature of the back, they also stimulate the abdominal organs and improve breathing.
Bharadvajasana (Seated Twist or “Splat” Pose)
Place a bolster or two folded blankets behind your mat. From a seated position on your mat, take your feet to the ground in front of your mat. Slowly begin to move your knees from side-to-side in a windshield wiper-like motion.
Let both knees fall to the right side. For less intensity, tuck the right foot under the left thigh. For a deeper twist, place the left knee in the arch of the right foot.
Place your right hand on the mat behind your right hip and your left hand on your right thigh. Inhale and lengthen up through the spine as you ground down through the top of the left thigh.
On an exhalation, keep the left thigh anchored on the mat as the left side of your pelvis begins to twist to the right. Continue the twist with your belly, ribs and chest all turning to the right.
Take several breaths to twist as deeply to the right as is comfortable for your body. You can remain here in the upright version of this pose for a few breaths before returning back to neutral.
Or, you can move into the reclining variation. On an exhale and lower your torso down along the props. Place your head on the props with the right side down initially. After a few breaths, if it feels comfortable for your neck, you can experiment with turning to rest on the left side.
Remain in this pose for 2-5 minutes before pressing into your hands to come up. Then, turn your head, chest, ribs, belly and finally pelvis back toward neutral. Repeat on the left side.
Lie down on your mat with your legs lengthened and your arms out to the side in a “T” position. On an exhalation, draw the knees in toward the torso, one leg at a time.
Inhale and squeeze the thighs together. On an exhale, let the left side of the pelvis lift up as you move the knees to the mat on your right side. Your pelvis should be perpendicular to the floor.
Turn your chest toward the left, dropping the left shoulder down toward the mat. If it is comfortable for your body, turn your head to gaze out over your left finger tips.
Remain in the pose for several minutes before repeating on the left side.
Are you feeling all twisted up lately? How does the practice of simple twists impact that feeling? I’d love to hear from you!
P.S. This post is part of a series on the basics of many of the most common poses. Look here for additional posts in this series.