Twist Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja’s Twist

Bharadvaja's Twist, called Bharadvajasana in Sanskrit, is a genetle and loving twist for the spine and adominals. This post inspires postural and body awareness.


How to Say Bharadvajasana in Sanskrit

(bah-ROD-va-JAHS-anna), Bharadvaja = one of seven legendary seers, credited with composing the hymns collected in the Vedas

Bharadvaja’s Twist Step-by-Step Instructions

Photo: Christopher Dougherty; Mat: Jade Yoga; Props: Hugger Mugger
  1. Begin in Dandasana (Staff Pose); move your sacrum in and up toward your navel, and extend your sternum away from your navel to lengthen your front body.
  2. Feel your pubis and tailbone dropping equally toward the floor—the bowl of your pelvis is upright, neither spilling forward nor spilling back; also notice that the two sides of your waist are equally long.
  3. Imagine a central axis running through your torso from your pelvic floor to the crown of your head.
  4. Emphasize both the length and the integrity of this axis; the column is straight and is not tilting or curving off to one side or another.
  5. Keeping the imprint of this central axis, lean onto your right hip and swing your legs to the left, bending your knees and placing your feet to the outside of your left hip.
  6. Nestle your left ankle on top of your right arch, and descend your left sitting bone to recreate the evenness in your side body from Dandasana.
  7. Inhale, and lengthen along the central axis.
  8. Exhale, and twist your torso around that length to the right; keep your left sitting bone heavy.
  9. Place your left hand beneath your right knee with your fingers pointed back toward your knee, and take your right hand to the floor behind your right hip.
  10. Draw back with the head of your left upper arm so that the hand position doesn’t cause your shoulder to hunch forward.
  11. Take your gaze to the right, but make sure the twist in your neck is not happening at the expense of rotation throughout your spine and torso.
  12. Continue the essential pattern of breath; use inhalations to lengthen and exhalations to twist any amount more.
  13. Hold for 8–10 breaths, then release back to center.
  14. Repeat on the other side.


Bharadvaja’s twist Pose Cues

Contraindications and Cautions of Bharadvaja’s Twist

  • Avoid or modify if you have any knee pain, knee injuries (particularly knee ligament injuries), knee arthritis, knee replacement, or other knee limitations.
  • Avoid or modify if you have ankle pain, arthritis, or injury
  • Avoid or modify if you have hip pain, hip arthritis, or a hip replacement
  • Avoid or modify if you have a groin tear or injury.
  • Avoid or modify if you have acute back pain or injuries, including surgeries, osteoporosis, disc bulging or herniation

Benefits of Bharadvaja’s twist

  • Improves postural and body awareness
  • Improves posture and counteracts the effects of sitting and computer work
  • Can help stimulate proper digestion by facilitating movement through the digestive tract (peristalsis)
  • May help relieve constipation through the benefits of movement and stimulation of the lower abdominal area
  • Can help relieve bloating and gas
  • Strengthens your core and particularly muscles supporting your spine
  • Stretches around your shoulders, your back muscles, front of your thighs (quadriceps), buttocks (gluteals) and around your ankles

3 Ways to Modify Bharadvaja’s twist

1. Bharadvaja’s Twist with props

If your knee is lifted, use a bolster or folded blankets at whatever height works for you under your hips and lifted knee. The lift under your hips and lifted thigh will help take pressure out of your low back and knees.

2. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

3. Chair Seated Twist

Sit in a chair with your feet under your knees at hip distance apart.

If you are taller, you may need to sit on folded blankets. If you are shorter, you may need to put folded blankets or blocks under your feet.

First, sit as tall as you can. Then, gently twist to one side.

Use your hands on the side of your thigh, side of the chair, or arm rests of the chair if it has them to help you stabilize and sit taller

Take several deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Photo: Christopher Dougherty; Mat: Jade Yoga; Props: Hugger Mugger

Preparatory Poses for Bharadvaja’s twist

  • Baddha Konasana
  • Suta Padangusthasana
  • Utthita Trikonasana
  • Virabhadrasana II
  • Virasana Vrksasana

Follow-up Poses After Bharadvaja’s twist