Bharadvaja's Twist  -Bharadvajasana

Step by step

  • Sit in Dandasana and place your hands behind you, fingers pointing forward
  • Bend your knees, keeping your legs together, move your lower legs to the left
  • Shift your legs in such a way so that your left ankle ends up resting in the arch of your right foot
  • You might need to place something under your right buttock to level your hips
  • Lift and extend your torso on the inbreath
  • Place left palm on the right knee. Turn your abdomen and then chest to the right, and revolve your right shoulder blades on the outbreath
  • Lastly turn your head and neck, firmly pressing the fingertips of your right hand into the floor
  • Raise on the inbreath and rotate your spine even more (keep it comfortable) to the right and look over your shoulder on the outbreath. Hold for a few breaths
  • To come out of this pose, release your hands, bring your torso to the front and straighten your legs
  • Repeat on the other side

Beginners tips

  • If your buttocks are not firmly grounded, i.e. you are tilting onto the twisting side, sit up on a thickly folded blanket.

Benefits

  • Releases pain and tension in the back, neck and shoulders
  • Keeps your spine and shoulders supple
  • Increases flexibility in the back and hips
  • Massages the abdominal organs
  • Improves digestion

Watch out for...

  • Make sure you keep your left arm extended.
  • Try to avoid collapsing the side body - keep your chest expanded.
  • If you have a history of spine, hip or disc problems you should not do this pose unsupervised.

Variations

  • Press your right shin into the floor to help lift your torso. It can also help you to twist more.
  • For an easier version, sit sideways on a chair, with the back of the chair to your right. Bring your knees together and heels directly below the knees. Exhale and twist toward the back of the chair. Hold onto the sides of the chair and make the movement of trying to pull the chair apart.
  • You can increase the challenge further by changing the position of your arms and hands. Exhale and swing your right arm around behind you back as you twist to the right. Grip the left arm just at the elbow (if you can otherwise use a strap looped around the elbow) Turn your left arm outward and slip the hand under the right knee, palm on the floor.
  • To deepen your pose, tuck in both of your shoulders. Lift your sternum and keep your spine erect. Twist and as you turn don't let you knees move. Keep both sides of your rib cage parallel and watch out for the tendency to lean back. Stay for a few breaths.