Ardha (= half)Matsyendra (= Lord of the Fishes) Eugenia shows a full Spinal Twist (left). Unless you are already advanced in Yoga, do not attempt to do this yet. Detailed preliminary instructions are provided below. When you practice this posture, visualize the image of the sacral (2nd Chakra) and its orange-red color (shown in far right column), and focus on that area of your body (about an inch above your tailbone). And this time let that color rise up higher to where your body is turning when you get into the final full posture. If you have not read about this Chakra yet, you can click on the image to the right to go directly to the 2nd Chakra series. It will help you visualize this part of your body better. If a link from the 2nd Chakra (Svadhisthana) series brought you to this page, this posture is quite specific for opening up that area of the Chakra system. However, these postures can be done by anyone for many other reasons. Benefits are also provided below. Here are some preliminary stretches to help you attain the final goal. If you want to return to the Chakra series, there is a link to the next Chakra at the bottom of this page. The Spinal Twist is one of the classics in Yoga. It is also included in Hatha Yoga Pradipika. If you have read that series yet, then you know how far back this goes! It is not easy to do, especially if you have a problem with thinking what is right and left (dyslexia). This ones requires patience. If you rush this one, you will feel stress.
Preliminary Steps - Detailed InstructionsLeft Side
- Cross your left leg, bent, over your straight right leg, as shown in this image. Try to get your left foot to touch the right thigh and keep it there throughout this stretch. Your left knee should remain up.
- Twist your upper body 90 degrees to the left until your right armpit touches the outer side of your left thigh. This might sound very complicated, but it isn't really. Just study the illustration and put yourself facing in the same direction and you will be able to get it.
- Place your left hand on the floor next to your body on the left side (see above), a little behind you at an angle.
- If you can, lift your right arm, bend the elbow, and let it land on the outside of your left knee. Push your knee more to the right with your elbow, if possible.
- Let your right hand sink down to grab the toes of your left foot if you have come this far. Turn your head to the left with your chin lifted over your left shoulder. Look behind you, then close your eyes.
- Inhale and exhale with force (in out in out) from your abdomen only for a minute, through your nose, so it makes a loud sound. This will give massage your spine and inner organs from the breath going in and out quickly.
- Relax and center yourself again in a sitting position and breathe slowly for a minute or so. Feel your body inside.
- Repeat the same procedure on the opposite side. The main thing to remember is that you are crossing your knee over the other leg now and twisting your upper body in the opposite direction of the knee that is up. If your right knee is bent over your straight left leg, you will twist to the right. If your left knee is bent over your right leg, you will twist to the left.
Full Spinal TwistI used to watch Eugenia as she took the foot that was going to be next to her thigh (as shown here) and kept walking it back behind and practically under the buttocks. This actually helped the posture to be easier. Look at the image of Eugenia doing the Spinal Twist at the top of this page again. Study that image. She does it perfectly.
- Repeat all the steps from the preliminary instructions above, only this time bend the straight leg in front of you and bring it to the side of your buttocks. It's sort of like sitting cross-legged, only one leg is over the other with the knee up. I hope this makes it easier. This is not an easy one to describe with words. Just try to do what the picture is showing. Tips: This posture must be done with great caution and with the muscles of your body as relaxed as possible to get the best results. Visualize it first. Look at the image. Try the position before you actually do the final posture. Get it right before you add the breathing.
BenefitsBy the time you get this right, your body will be able to do this without thinking so much about it. Think about anything you have ever done that was a little intimidating at first, and then later how easy it became for you. If you want get your spine to be more flexible and increase the blood flow into the vertebrae and nerves, this posture stimulates it all. It also strengthens the inner organs (liver, pancreas, spleen). The twisting motion of the spine with the powerful breath helps anyone with arthritis to be more flexible, thereby alleviating backache, lumbago and hip pain. The intestines get a massage cleansing. And of course, the twisting will help to melt the fat around the waist.
Plough (together with Shoulder Stand, next)