Pose dedicated to the sage Marichi C  -Marichyasana C

Step by step

  • Starting in Dandasana.
  • Exhale, bend the right knee placing the foot flat on the floor, keep some space between the left thigh and right foot. Check that you can keep the spine straight in this pose, if not you can move the foot slightly further away from the hips towards the knee.
  • Inhale, lengthen the spine and raise the right arm. Exhale rotate to the right bringing the right hand or fingertips to the floor behind you.
  • Bring the left arm across the body pressing the upper arm against the outer right knee. From here bend the left elbow so that the fingertips are pointing to the ceiling. Make the hand active.
  • Inhale and lengthen the spine, exhale deepen the twist turning the head last.
  • Keep the outstretched leg and foot active without locking the back of the knee.
  • Stay here for around 5 deep breaths.
  • Inhale bring your gaze back to the front.
  • Exhale, release the arms, turn back to centre and straighten both legs.
  • Pause or take a vinyasa and then repeat on the other side.

Benefits

  • Keeps the spine healthy and mobile.
  • Stimulates and strengthens the muscles around the ribs and back.
  • Improves posture and breathing.
  • Opens the shoulders.
  • Massages the abdomen which may help with digestion and elimination.

Beginners tips

  • In Dandasana first check that you can sit comfortably with your back upright but still keeping the natural curves of the spine. If you find your lower back is rounding out you can sit up on something like a block.
  • Keeping length in the spine is the most important part of healthy twisting, focus on this rather than how far round your spine rotates. It’s fine to lean back slightly, just bring your hand a bit further away from your hips and try not to sink too much weight into it.
  • Instead of bringing the arm across to the outer edge of the bent knee you can hug the left forearm around the outer right thigh,
  • Alternatively, place the elbow on top of the left kneecap - this version ensures that you maintain length in the spine whilst twisting, rather than forcing yourself into the twist by the strength of the arm.
  • Keep some attention on your outstretched leg - it should be active but not tense or locked. To help this you can press your heel to the mat, spread your toes and push through the ball of your foot a little.

Watch out for

  • Let the head be the last thing to turn. The point is to create a long twist in the back rather than straining your neck to look over your shoulder.
  • There can be a tendency to lean forward, rounding the back. To help avoid this think about keeping the back of the head in line with the spine.
  • Pregnant women should avoid strong twists (and many will prefer to avoid any kind of twist at all). See Variations for an open twist option.
  • If you have sacroiliac (SI) joint problems don’t come so far in the twist, just take hold of the right knee with the left hand instead of binding.
  • Also you can let your left sit bone lift a little as you twist to the right (and vice versa) so that you are keeping the lower back stable and starting the twist higher up the spine - more in the mid and upper back region.

Variations

  • Marichyasana C is a closed twist and these can be very uncomfortable or impossible if you have a larger belly or breasts. Instead you can make it an open twist so taking hold of the right knee with the right arm and turn to the left instead of the right.
  • This open twist variation can also be an option for pregnant women, although make it a very gentle twist and skip if it does not feel good for your body.
  • In the Ashtanga Vinyasa version of the pose the hands are clasped behind the back (see the image of Clayton in the suggested class). Set up the pose as described above so that the left arm is against the outer right knee. You will need to bring your heel back as close as possible to the right sit bone. Then with the left arm out straight, internally rotate the arm so that the thumb is pointing down and the palm of the hand is facing to the left. Then, wrap the lower arm around the right knee.
  • Bring the right arm around your back and take hold of the left wrist or hand, or you can grab a belt or your clothes if your hands don’t reach.