Intermediate Yoga

3 Steps to Get Into Bharadvaja’s Twist

A quiet, bound, and balanced posture like Bharadvajasana can help you to find stillness.

Bharadvaja was a wise sage in ancient India who taught great warriors how to stay centered and become superb archers. Today, we can tap into his teachings and the balance of physical and spiritual forces they inspire through the practice of Bharadvaja’s pose, or Bharadvajasana, an intensely grounding and cleansing twist. In the cacophony of the modern world, a quiet, bound, and balanced posture like Bharadvajasana can help us to find a moment of peace and stillness. Here are three steps waken up your muscles and get you there:

Step 1: Ardha Padmasana

half lotus

Set Up
1. Sit tall in Dandasana (Staff Pose). If it’s challenging to sit tall, place a folded blanket under your sitting bones.
2. Mindfully place your right leg into Half Lotus: Bend your right knee and grasp your right ankle and shin with each hand. Using your arms, gently pull the heel of your right foot in toward the lower-left quadrant of your belly.
3. If you can, bring the foot up high enough on your thigh so that your heel is touching, and eventually pressing into, your belly. If your knee objects to this position, either back off the foot placement, or skip it altogether and place the sole of the right foot against the inner left thigh instead.

Refine
1. Your ankle bone should be centered directly on top of your thighbone. Don’t let your foot go too far across the leg or hang off the inside of your thigh. If you don’t center your foot, and place it too low (toward the inside) on the thigh, it can strain the ligaments on the outside of your ankle.
2. Flex your foot to help protect the ankle and make it easier to work the foot in toward the belly.
3. Engage the biceps by pulling the foot mindfully toward the belly.

Finish
1. Sit tall, roll the shoulders back.
2. Take several breaths here before releasing the posture and doing the pose on the other side.

Step 2: Ardha Virasana

Set Up
1. Sit tall in Dandasana, with your sitting bones grounded and both legs straight in front of you. If your lower back slumps backward, put a folded blanket under your sitting bones for support.
2. Bend your left knee, take the foot back alongside the hip, and place your shin on the floor. See that the left foot is pointing straight back, and press all five toes into the floor.
3. If you find that you are leaning to the right or your left foot is turning out, place a folded blanket under your right hip to elevate that side of your body.
4. Keep your right leg straight, with the toes and kneecap pointing up and your quads contracted.

Refine
1. Place your hands to the sides of your body, flat on the floor, and, if possible, slightly behind your hips. Keep your spine perpendicular to the floor.
2. Inhale, and lengthen the spine from the waist to the shoulders.
3. Exhale, and allow the left hip to settle in alongside the left heel.

Finish
1. Feel the top of your left foot and left quadriceps stretching out, and all the toes pressing into the floor.
2. Hold for several breaths, then switch sides.

Step 3: Bharadvajasana

half lotus twist

Set Up
1. Sit in Dandasana. Fold the left leg back, placing the shin on the floor alongside the left thigh. Point your toes straight back and feel both sitting bones on the floor.
2. Hold the right ankle with both hands and guide your right foot onto the left thigh, and into Half Lotus.
3. Hold the foot in place with your left hand as you twist to your right and reach your right hand around behind you, taking hold of the right foot. Your hand should be holding the instep of the right foot.

Refine
Tuck your left palm under your right knee. If you can’t reach, or if the left buttock lifts, keep your left hand pressing against your right knee. Pull gently on the foot in Half Lotus to increase the twist.

Finish
1. Sit up tall.
2. Gaze over your right shoulder or as far right as possible.
3. Take several breaths here, holding a steady gaze. Gently release the twist and bring your legs to Dandasana before switching sides.