Spine Twisting Pose: Ardha Matsyendrasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Creates equilibrium in spine and in left and right side of body
  • Compresses and stretches spine from bottom to top
  • Twists and rinses out spine
  • Boosts and enhances elasticity, flexibility, circulation, and nutrition to spinal nerves, veins, and tissues
  • Helps prevent slipped discs, spinal rheumatism, scoliosis, kyphosis, cervical spondylosis, and arthritis
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Increases flexibility of hip joints and back
  • Stretches chest, upper back, and outer thigh muscles
  • Firms thighs, buttocks, and abdomen
  • Strengthens abdominal muscles and buttocks
  • Advances digestion and removes flatulence by rinsing out abdominal organs
  • Opens shoulder joint

How to Do:

  • Set up for pose by doing these: Bend left leg on floor until left heel meets side of right buttock; Bend right knee to bring right leg up and over left leg; Line right heel up to touch left knee
  • Ensure that left knee and both buttocks stay on floor throughout pose
  • Line right hand up behind back near tailbone to keep body weight forward and lifted throughout pose
  • Inhale while stretching left arm up alongside left ear
  • Exhale while drawing left arm over right knee to firmly hold left kneecap
  • Inhale while lifting spine
  • Exhale while turning head over right shoulder, and twist shoulders and torso toward right
  • Deepen twist by doing these: Press left elbow into right knee; Reach right hand behind your back all the way around to hold left thigh or hip
  • Breathe normally and work toward twisting more deeply, specifically during an exhale
  • (NOTE: Keep abdominal muscles engaged to support spine, and use core strength to avoid twisting from a rounded, unsupported spine.)
  • As you twist, think of lifting up
  • Lift abdomen out of pelvis, and lift upper body up toward ceiling
  • Work shoulders down and away from ears
  • Breathe, hold pose for 20 seconds, and unwind out of pose
  • Repeat this pose on your left side by twisting to your left

Once you are finished doing all the poses (or whichever you choose to do), you should finish off with the Blowing in Firm pose, which is the final breathing exercise, also known as Kapalbhati-in-Vajrasana. You’ll do this to clear your mind, remove any stale air from your lungs, improve bowel movement and oxygen flow to the body, and even help normalize your blood pressure.