I try not to keep this blog too technical, since I have people following different activities of mine. So whether it’s dance or running, or books or music, the writing is such that enables everyone to have a good read, and maybe learn a snippet of something new. Today’s yoga lesson of the day features the Ardha Matsyendrasana or the Half Spinal Twist. I love the twisting poses in yoga as they work out the entire spine – like a towel being wrung out, the entire body is Twisted and worked on. Though loosely referred to as “half” in the English translation, the pose is supremely powerful due to its allegiance to the great yogi Matsyendra. The half spinal twist is regarded as a “kundalini” pose since it clears the movements of energy along the chakras – due to the entire spine being twisted from the base to the crown. The effects of the pose are far-reaching, and are considered to help the practitioner reach towards the divine.
The twisting poses follow the back bends and forward bends because they set the spine which has been challenged in the former asanas. So in a class sequence, this would be practiced towards the end. The dept of the twist determines the progress in the pose. Ardha Matsyendrasana is an intense pose and difficult to hold for longer durations. There is also the possibility of the range being different in both sides of the body. Awareness is essential, along with focus on the breath, to know how far you can twist on both the right and left, and how long you can hold the twist on each side.
The Twisted asana has tremendous benefits at various levels. On an emotional level, the half spinal twist is said to treat depression and listlessness due to its energy-release action on the spine. It combats lethargy, dullness and nervous system disorders, and de-stresses and calms by positively affecting the adrenal glands. On the psychic level, it is known to balance the manipura chakra – the third chakra which is the centre of vitality and controls energy balance. At the physical level, ardha matsyendrasana tones the back muscles and ensures the spinal nerves are in peak condition to withstand and adapt to stresses the body faces. It powers respiration – breathing steadily while twisting works on the muscles in the upper torso and neck that assist the lungs. The pose is a powerful detoxifier since twisting massages all the major organs – blood circulation improves, digestion and nutrient absorption is boosted, the spleen is toned. It’s effect on the pelvic region helps treat urogenital problems, also helping in menstrual and fertility issues.
The range is determined by the ability of the body. Go as far as you can without strain, working progressively through the range as your daily practice continues. Contraindications to the half spinal twist include any kind of inflammatory condition or issues related to the spine. Milder variations can be attempted under the guidance of a teacher, with gradual progression on the basis of how much can be sustained without straining. I had an accident a couple of months ago. My range on the right-sided twist is not as much as the left (or even as much as it was pre-accident). I work through various variations for each of the asanas in my practice, and gradually build on the ones I’m lacking in.
If you’ve been sitting around reading blogs for too long, time to get down to some stretching and twisting – release all that locked up energy and have a great and bright day ahead! 🙂