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Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja’s Twist) is a seated pose that strengthens and stretches your spine, neck, and shoulders.
It’s important to avoid doing this pose “head first”—in other words, tightening the muscles at the back of your neck, which can lead to headaches, upper back tension, and fatigue, says Denise Benitez, founder of Seattle Yoga Arts. To test your head’s position, lift it upright and place the palm of one hand across the muscles at the back of your neck. If they’re hard and taut, bring your head back without lifting your chin. You’ll feel the muscles at the back of your neck soften.
To lessen the burden this posture places on your back and sacroiliac joints (they link your pelvis and lower spine), fold a blanket into quarters and position one corner of it so that it’s facing your right hip. Sit on the blanket with your right buttock, leaving your left buttock elevated off of the mat.
Bharadvaja’s Twist basics
Sanskrit: Bharadvajasana (bah-ROD-va-JAHS-anna)
Pose type: Twist
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Bharadvaja’s Twist improves postural and body awareness and can help stimulate proper digestion by facilitating movement through the digestive tract (peristalsis). This pose may help relieve constipation through the benefits of movement and stimulation of the lower abdominal area, and relieve bloating and gas. Bharadvaja’s Twist strengthens your core and particularly the muscles supporting your spine, and stretches around your shoulders, your back muscles, front of your thighs (quadriceps), buttocks (glutes), and around your ankles.
Bharadvaja’s Twist: Step-by-step instructions
- Begin in Staff Pose.
- Lean on to your right hip and swing your legs to the left, bending your knees and placing both feet to the outside of your left hip so that your left ankle rests in the arch of your right foot.
- Place your left hand under your right knee with your fingers pointed back toward your knee, and take your right hand to the floor behind your right hip.
- Inhale and lengthen your spine; exhale and twist your torso, keeping your left sitting bone heavy.
- Take your gaze to right, again twisting from your torso.
- To exit the pose, exhale and slowly unwind.
If you tilt onto the twisting-side buttock, place a thickly folded blanket underneath it. Consciously sink both sitting bones toward the floor.
These cues will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:
- Imagine a central axis running through your torso from your pelvic floor to the crown of your head.
- Emphasize both the length and the integrity of this axis; the column is straight and shouldn’t tilt or curve to one side.
Variation: Seated Twist
Sit cross-legged, or with legs extended and one crossed over the other, then gently twist to one side.