Asana Breakdown: Seated Twist (ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA)

This Yoga seated twist
This Yoga seated twist

The kids are back to school, and routines may be beginning to adjust to the new “normal”. The start to the school year oftentimes feel hectic and over-scheduled. This can result in aches, pains, and digestive issues. I feel ya!

First off for September — this simple seated twist: Half Twist (in Sanskrit, the language of yoga, know as ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA or “Half Lord of the Fishes”

This pose energizes the spine and stimulates the digestive fire. If you are at all like me, the summer fun starts to catch up with you in September. One too many burgers or mules? Me, too. This shape will help ease a bit of that.

The many benefits include: • Increases your spinal flexibility and range of motion (great for golfers!) • Expands your chest and shoulders (combats “text neck”) • Relieves thoracic or mid-back spinal tension (great if you sit at a desk) • Strengthens your abdominal oblique muscles (who doesn’t need this?) • Stretches your hip rotators and hip (beneficial for runners and cyclists) • Traditionally thought to massage your abdominal organs, detoxify your liver and kidneys, and stimulate digestive fire (necessary for those that enjoy the extra “fun” summer life!)

To try out Half Twist Pose on your own:

  1. Sit up with the legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping the feet together and the spine erect.
  2. Bend the left leg and place the heal of the left foot beside the right hip (optionally, you can keep the left leg straight).
  3. Take the right leg over the left knee.
  4. Place the left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind you.
  5. Twist the waist, shoulders and neck in this sequence to the right and look over the right shoulder.
  6. Keep the spine erect.
  7. Hold and continue with gentle long breaths in and out.
  8. Breathing out, release the right hand first (the hand behind you), release the waist, then chest, lastly the neck and sit up relaxed yet straight.
  9. Repeat to the other side.
  10. And, don't forget to breathe. And smile!

If you find you are tipping over, or rounding through your lower spine, you may take some height underneath the sitting bones. Arrange a cushion or a blanket so that your sitting bones are on the edge, the pelvis is tipping forward, and you maintain your lumbar / low back curve. If your elbow does not quite reach the outside of the thigh, you may keep your arm straight, bringing the forearm in contact with the thigh.

Back or spine injury? Perform this pose only with the supervision of an experienced teacher.

This pose can be practiced any time of the day, and is perfect for beginners and seasoned yogis alike.