Uta’s Insights: Yoga Pose of the Week — 13. Spinal Twist

September 1, 2014 By Uta Pippig

Spinal Twist — Ardha Matsyendrasana

© Tim DeFrisco
© Tim DeFrisco

Ardha Matsyendrasana releases tension and has a calming effect. It increases flexibility in the neck, shoulders, spine and gives a nice stretch to the gluteus muscles. It is an exercise much appreciated by runners, bikers, triathletes, and many others.

The pose improves lung capacity by stretching the intercostal muscle groups, the small muscles located between the ribs, and by opening the chest.

It is one of my fellow runners’ favorite exercises. We enjoy practicing the Spinal Twist right after an easy workout to relieve muscle tightness and tension, and it is a great stretch when you move into it right after the Head Beyond the Knee pose.

How to practice the Spinal Twist:

  1. Start in a sitting position with the legs straight ahead and hands on the floor behind you.
  2. Cross your left leg over your right leg and place your left foot flat on the floor beside your right knee.
  3. Bring your right elbow to the outside of the left knee, applying light pressure to it. And place your left hand behind your spine.
  4. Inhale deeply, then exhale slowly as you turn your shoulders as far as you can to the left, keeping the back straight and shoulders down with very little weight on your left hand. Envision the spine lengthening upwards. Please be gentle with this move!
  5. Breathe steadily, twisting a little more each time you exhale. Return to the position in Step 1. Then repeat the sequence on the other side.

I wish you much joy while practicing your yoga program.

Namaste!

Yours,

Reading Suggestions:

  1. Yoga for Performancesm: Introduction
  2. Yoga for Performancesm: Runners’ Sequence, Part 1
  3. Yoga for Performancesm: Runners’ Sequence, Part 2

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