Step by step
- Start in Dandasana. Bend the right knee and place your foot flat on the mat, a comfortable distance away from your hip.
- Ground through both sitting bones and lengthen the spine.
- Place your right hand or fingertips behind you for support.
- As you inhale, raise your left arm. Exhale and twist your upper back to the right.
- Bring your left arm across the right leg, pressing the left upper arm against the outer right knee. Bend the left elbow, point your fingertips to the ceiling, and keep that hand active.
- With each inhalation, press the sitting bones into the floor and lengthen the spine.
- With each exhalation see if you can twist a little further to the right. Be gentle.
- Keep the outstretched leg active.
- Stay for 5 deep breaths.
- To come out of the pose, bring your gaze back to the front as you inhale, and release the arms and straighten both legs as you exhale.
- Pause or take a Vinyasa before repeating on the other side.
- Length in the spine is your priority in this pose rather than how far you can twist (as with any other twist), so sit up on as many props as needed to be able to do that. Instead of bringing the arm across your bent knee, you can hug that knee with your arm.
- Spread your toes and gently push through the ball of your outstretched leg to keep it active.
- 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.
Watch out for
- This pose is not recommended if you are pregnant. You may, however, like try the open twist version, by hugging your right knee with your right hand and gently twisting towards the left (facing away from your bent knee). Keep your twist very mild and avoid it altogether if doesn’t feel right.
- Think about keeping the back of your neck in line with the spine and turn your head last, to create a long twist in the back without straining the neck.
- Allow your hips to lift and follow the spine if they need to instead of keeping them fixed to the mat, especially in case of lower back issues.
- Marichyasana C is a closed twist and these can be very uncomfortable or impossible if you have a larger body. 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 – as in the variation for pregnant women above.
- In the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga version of the pose the hands are clasped behind the back. 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. Try this version only if you can maintain length in your spine doing so.