Detoxify And Loosen Your Back And Spine With The Seated Spinal Twist Yoga Pose
The seated spinal twist, or Ardha Matsyendrasana, is a wonderful intermediate-level yoga stretch for the back. It is said to detoxify the internal organs and provides great stretching and flexibility benefits for the entire length of the spine.
Yoga Warm-Up for Seated Spinal Twist
Matsyendrasana is a strenuous yoga asana that twists and wrings out the entire body. It should be performed later in a yoga practice session. Yoga warm-ups to prepare could include Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) and standing strength poses such as a Warrior series (Virabhadrasana) to lengthen and loosen the back. Once the body is warm, the muscles will be softer. This allows for easier stretching and less risk of injury. This yoga pose should be avoided in pregnancy or by people with back problems. Remember to always be gentle and listen to the body’s wisdom.
Preparing for the Seated Spinal Twist
Sit in Stick Pose (Dandasana), a pike position with the feet straight out in front, feet flexed and active. Lengthen the spine from the tailbone to the crown of the head. On an exhalation, bend the right knee and cross the right foot to the outside of the left knee. Continue to lengthen the spine. Place the right hand behind you, close to the buttocks, palm flat, to serve as a second spine. Reach your left hand around to hug the outside of the right knee.
Performing the Seated Spinal Twist
Breathe in deeply, and with a slow exhale begin to twist to the right. Start the twist by leading with the belly button, then the heart. Finally, turn the shoulders, and finish by turning the head to look behind you. Continue to lengthen the spine throughout the turn, and back off if any pain is felt. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply through the nose. Use the right arm to support and intensify the stretch and twist.
Intensify the Seated Spinal Twist
To increase the stretch, straighten the left arm and place the left elbow to the outside of the right knee. You may hold the arm straight with extended fingers or soft fist, or bend the elbow and place thumb and forefinger together. To enter full Matsyendrasana, bend the left leg and gently point the heel towards the right buttock. Continue to breathe deeply for four to five breaths to get the full benefit of the pose, and then slowly and gently unwind. To maintain balance, repeat the pose in the opposite direction.
Benefits of the Seated Spinal Twist
This yoga pose provides a thorough stretching of all the muscles of the back and neck and helps to increase the flexibility of the spinal column. It is believed that the intense twisting of Matsyendrasana helps to wring excess blood from the internal organs and therefore acts as a detoxifier.
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