The Prayer Twist, also known as Parivrtta Anjaneyasana, is a powerful and invigorating yoga pose that demands balance, flexibility, and strength. This pose is a deep, bound twist often incorporated into Vinyasa yoga sequences.
The pose begins from a lunge position, with one foot forward between the hands and the other extended back. The hands are then brought together in a prayer position at the heart center, and the twist is initiated from the spine, turning the chest towards the bent knee.
|Sanskrit Name and Pronunciation
|Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (par-ee-vrit-tah an-jan-ay-AHS-anna)
How to Do the Prayer Twist
- Start in a High Lunge Pose (Anjaneyasana) and bring your right foot forward between your hands and your left leg extended back. Your right knee should be directly above your right ankle, and your left heel should be lifted off the ground.
- Bring your hands to your heart in a prayer position, also known as Anjali Mudra.
- Initiate the twist by inhaling deeply, and as you exhale, twist your torso to the right, bringing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
- Deepen the Twist: Press your palms together and actively push your left elbow against your right knee, helping to twist your chest and shoulders towards the sky.
- Alignment Check: Ensure your right knee stays aligned with your right ankle, and keep your left leg strong and active.
- Hold and Breathe: Hold the pose for a few breaths, keeping your gaze either forward or turning it upwards towards the sky.
- Exit the Pose: To come out of the pose, inhale and untwist your torso, placing your hands back on the ground on either side of your right foot.
- Return to Neutral: Step back into a plank or Downward Dog Pose for a breath or two before repeating the pose on the opposite side.
|Deltoids, Rotator Cuffs, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major, Serratus Anterior
|Rectus Abdominis, Obliques
|Erector Spinae, Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids
|Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus
|Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves, Adductors
While there are many research-backed mental and physical benefits of yoga, there are few — if any — official studies on the prayer twist pose. However, it’s generally believed that practicing the prayer twist pose provides several health benefits.
The Prayer Twist pose requires a combination of hip, spine, and shoulder flexibility. Practicing this pose can increase flexibility in these areas over time.
The Prayer Twist pose requires significant core strength to maintain the twist and balance. Practicing this pose can help build strength in the core muscles.
The Prayer Twist pose involves balancing on one foot while twisting the torso, which can help improve balance and coordination.
Opens the Chest and Shoulders
The twisting aspect of this pose helps to open the chest and shoulders, which can help improve posture and breathing.
The Prayer Twist pose requires focus, balance, and strength, which can help calm the mind and promote relaxation. Additionally, the twisting motion can help relieve back and neck tension, further promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.
Drawbacks and Risks
The Prayer Twist pose, also known as Parivrtta Anjaneyasana, is a challenging pose that requires balance, flexibility, and strength. However, it also comes with its own risks and potential drawbacks if not performed correctly.
Some potential risks of the Prayer Twist pose include potential injuries to the:
Spine. The Prayer Twist pose involves a deep twist of the spine. If not performed correctly, this can lead to strain or injury to the muscles and ligaments in the back and spine. It’s important to twist from the abdomen and not force the twist from the lower back.
Knees. The Prayer Twist pose requires one knee to be bent and the other leg extended. If the knee is not aligned properly, there is a risk of strain or injury to the knee joint. It’s important to keep the knee directly over the ankle and not let it drift inward or outward.
Hips. The Prayer Twist pose requires a deep twist and hip bend. If the hips are not properly aligned or if the pose is forced, there is a risk of injury to the hip joint or the muscles and ligaments surrounding it.
Wrists. In the Prayer Twist, the hands are pressed together in a prayer position. If the wrists are not in a neutral position, the wrist joint can strain or injury.
Neck. The neck is often turned to one side in the Prayer Twist. If the neck is not aligned with the rest of the spine, there is a risk of strain or injury to the neck.
If you experience discomfort or pain while practicing this pose, stop immediately, modify it, or come out of it. It’s also important to warm up properly before attempting this pose and gradually build up to its full expression.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when practicing the Prayer Twist pose.
- Not Warming Up. Similar to the Wild Thing pose, it’s crucial to warm up before attempting the Prayer Twist pose. This can include yoga practices such as sun salutations, cat-cow stretches, and other poses that help warm the spine, shoulders, and hip muscles.
- Twisting from the Waist. A common mistake in the Prayer Twist pose is twisting from the waist instead of the spine. This can put unnecessary strain on the lower back. It’s important to initiate the twist from the base of the spine, moving upwards.
- Collapsing the Chest. In the Prayer Twist pose, keeping the chest open and lifted is important. Collapsing the chest can lead to improper alignment and breathing difficulties.
- Misaligning the Knees. In the Prayer Twist pose, the knees should be aligned with the hips. Misalignment can put undue pressure on the knees and can lead to injury.
- Forcing the Pose. It’s important to listen to your body and not force the pose. If you are unable to reach your hands together in a prayer position, you can modify the pose by placing one hand on the floor and the other on your knee.
- Not Using Props. If you’re new to the Prayer Twist pose or have limited flexibility, it can be helpful to use props such as blocks or straps to support the body and help you find proper alignment.
Modifications and Variations
If you’re new to the Prayer Twist pose or have limited flexibility or strength, several modifications can help you build up to the full expression of the pose. Here are some modifications to try:
If you’re having trouble reaching your hands together in prayer, you can use props such as blocks or straps. Place the block under your bottom hand for support, or use a strap between your hands to help you find proper alignment.
Practice on Your Knees
If you find maintaining balance in the Prayer Twist pose challenging, you can try practicing on your knees. Start in a tabletop position, then twist your upper body to one side, reaching your arm toward the ceiling. This modification can help you build strength and stability in the pose.
Practice with a Wall
If you’re having trouble maintaining balance in the Prayer Twist pose, try practicing with a wall for support. Stand a few feet from the wall, then twist your upper body towards it, reaching your arm to touch it. This modification can help you find stability and build confidence in the pose.
Practice the Cat-Cow Pose
This pose can help stretch and strengthen the spine and abdominal muscles, preparing you for the Prayer Twist pose. Start in a tabletop position, then alternate between arching your back and rounding it, moving with your breath. This can help you build the flexibility and strength needed for the Prayer Twist pose.