The Simple Spinal Twist Pose, or Ardha Matsyendrasana, is a restorative and invigorating yoga pose that demands flexibility, balance, and concentration.
This pose is a fundamental part of many yoga practices, including Hatha and Ashtanga yoga, and is often performed towards the end of a yoga sequence to help relax the body and mind.
The pose begins seated, with one leg extended and the other bent. The yogi then twists their torso towards the bent knee, promoting spinal flexibility.
|Sanskrit Name and Pronunciation||Ardha Matsyendrasana (AR-dah Mat-see-en-DRAHS-uh-nuh)|
How to Do the Simple Spinal Twist Pose
- Start in a seated position with your legs extended in front of you.
- Bend your right knee and place your right foot outside your left knee. Your right knee should be pointing upwards.
- Place your right hand behind you for support, fingers pointing away from your body.
- Inhale and lift your left arm toward the sky.
- As you exhale, twist your torso to the right and bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
- Turn your head to look over your right shoulder, keeping your spine straight.
- Hold the pose for a few breaths, deepening the twist with each exhale.
- To exit the pose, release your left elbow and turn your head to face forward. Extend your right leg out in front of you.
- Repeat the pose on the other side, this time twisting to the left.
|Upper Body:||Deltoids, Rotator Cuffs, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major, Biceps, Triceps|
|Core:||Rectus Abdominis, Obliques, Transverse Abdominis|
|Back:||Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids|
|Glutes:||Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus|
|Legs:||Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Adductors, Gastrocnemius, Soleus|
While there are many research-backed mental and physical benefits of yoga, there are few — if any — official studies on the Simple Spinal Twist pose. However, it’s generally believed that practicing the Simple Spinal Twist pose provides several health benefits.
The Simple Spinal Twist pose requires a combination of spinal, hip, and shoulder flexibility. Practicing this pose can help increase flexibility in these areas over time.
The Simple Spinal Twist pose requires a significant amount of core strength to hold the pose. Practicing this pose can help build strength in the core muscles.
The Simple Spinal Twist pose involves balancing on the butt, 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 Simple Spinal Twist pose requires focus, balance, and strength, which can help calm the mind and promote relaxation. It also aids in digestion and detoxification, contributing to overall wellness.
Drawbacks and Risks
Some potential risks of the Simple Spinal Twist pose include potential injuries to the:
Spine. The Simple Spinal Twist pose involves a deep rotation of the spine. If not performed correctly, this can lead to strain or injury to the spinal muscles or even the intervertebral discs. It’s important to keep the spine elongated and not to force the twist.
Hips. This pose requires the hips to remain grounded while the upper body twists. If the hips are lifted or twisted improperly, it can lead to strain or injury in the hip joint or the lower back.
Neck. The Simple Spinal Twist pose often involves turning the head to look over the shoulder. If the neck is not aligned properly with the rest of the spine, there is a risk of strain or injury to the neck muscles or cervical spine.
Knees. In the Simple Spinal Twist pose, the knees are often bent and stacked on top of each other. If the knees are not aligned properly, there is a risk of strain or injury to the knee joint.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when practicing the Simple Spinal Twist pose.
- Not Engaging the Core. The Simple Spinal Twist pose requires a strong core to maintain balance and alignment. If the core is not engaged, it can lead to strain on the lower back and spine.
- Twisting from the Waist. A common mistake is twisting from the waist instead of the spine. This can put unnecessary pressure on the lower back. Instead, focus on rotating from the spine, starting from the base and moving upwards.
- Forcing the Twist. It’s important to listen to your body and not force the twist. If you push too hard, you can cause injury to your spine or muscles. Instead, gently deepen the twist with each exhale.
- Ignoring the Neck. The neck should be an extension of the spine in the Simple Spinal Twist pose. Avoid craning your neck to look over your shoulder, which can cause strain. Instead, keep your gaze forward or slightly downward.
- Not Using Props. If you’re new to the Simple Spinal Twist pose or have limited flexibility, it can be helpful to use props such as blocks or blankets to support the body and help you find proper alignment.
Modifications and Variations
If you’re new to the Simple Spinal 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 knee or maintaining the twist, you can use props such as blocks or blankets to support your body and help you find proper alignment. Place the blocks or blankets under your knee or hip to help lift your body and deepen the twist.
Practice on Your Back
If you have trouble maintaining the pose while sitting, you can try practicing on your back. Lie flat on your back and bring one knee to your chest, then gently twist it across your body. This modification can help you build strength and stability in the pose.
Practice with a Wall
If you’re having trouble finding balance in the Simple Spinal Twist pose, try practicing with a wall for support. Sit with your back against the wall and twist towards it, using it to help maintain your balance. 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 back muscles, preparing you for the Simple Spinal Twist pose. The Cat-Cow pose involves moving between an arched back (Cat) and a rounded back (Cow), which can help to increase flexibility and strength in the spine.
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.