On the window displayed on the Bikram Yoga Studio in downtown Sarasota, a yogi is sitting in the spine twisting pose with the words Flexibility, Health, Balance, Strength, and Focus encompassing him.
Spine Twisting Pose, or Ardha Matsyendrasana, is the 26th posture in the Bikram Yoga practice.
This is a universal yoga pose with variations. Even though the 26 sequential postures in the practice are designed to set the body up for the next posture, this is an exercise that may be practiced at any time during the day or evening.
One of the benefits is reduced lower back pain and many follow. It is also an excellent compliment to forward and backward bending postures in the practice.
The posture may be demonstrated in a few ways. In the Bikram practice, sit with both hips evenly on the floor, bend your right knee with toes pointing back, cross your left leg over the right knee on the floor so that hand, heel, knee, and ankle bone touch, place your right hand on the floor at the base of spine for stability or for a deeper stretch wrap it around your back with hand reaching for inner thigh of costume. Keep knee planted on floor, spine elongated and twist to see the wall behind you. Twist further if there is not a strain. Uncross legs and arms and perform the posture on the opposite side.
Things to keep in mind while in the posture, exhale as you twist, learn slightly forward, lengthen the spine from the sacrum to the crown of the head. Keep the ankle, heel, and elbow in alignment. Keep both hips evenly on the floor.
Benefits are tenfold and include:
Stretches back muscles to keep back supple
Improves flexibility of the spine
Helps reduce back pain
Ease cramps in the midsection from digestive issues
Increases circulation to internal organs including kidneys and liver for improved function
Improves blood flow in between spinal disks
Increases hip flexibility
Helps relieve stress and anxiety with an increases focus on breath
Promotes grounding and stability
With this, is as with any posture, it is important to listen to the body and not over exert. Recognize the difference between pain and slight discomfort and ease up if pain is felt.