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Marichyasana III is the third of four poses dedicated to the Sage Marichi. The seated twist offers a deep stretch throughout the back, ribs, and shoulders. It also keeps the intervertebral disks—those little jelly-filled “doughnuts” between your vertebrae—supple.
Marichyasana III activates the three lower chakras—the muladhara (root chakra), svadhisthana (sacral chakra), and manipura (solar plexus chakra)—to cultivate a sense of security, stability, and self-confidence.
If you have difficulty twisting in Marichyasana III, don’t force it. Keep your pelvis in a neutral position so that your spine can fully lengthen. To prevent straining in the lower back, twist evenly through your spine, initiating the twist from the sacrum. Keep your belly soft. Just as a dish-towel shortens and thickens when twisted, so does the belly, and that can prevent the spine from lengthening and twisting fully.
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi III basics
Sanskrit: Marichyasana III (mar-ee-chee-AHS-anna)
Pose type: Twist
Other names: Sage’s Pose
Why we love it: “This pose always gives some relief to my spine—and my upper body,” says Yoga Journal staff writer Ellen O’Brien. “The sensation of tucking my elbow in front of my thigh is one of my favorites in my asana practice. It makes me twist so much deeper, and I’m really able to get into the pose.”
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This shoulder-stretching pose massages your abdominal organs, including your liver and kidneys. Additionally, this pose is a great way to relieve mild backaches and hip pain.
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi III: Step-by-step instructions
- Begin in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with your quadriceps and kneecaps facing the ceiling.
- Sit directly on top of your sitting bones, rather than falling behind them.
- Draw your right heel back, close to the right sitting bone—this is often a bit further to the right than you might realize.
- Imagine a central axis running through your torso from your pelvic floor to the crown of your head.
- Keeping the left leg active, inhale your left arm to the ceiling and take your right hand to the floor behind your right hip.
- Exhale and twist to the right, hooking your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Make sure your extended leg doesn’t lose its vigor or flop open.
- Inhale and find more length along your spine. Exhale to revolve around that length.
- To exit the pose, release back to Staff
If your neck feels stiff or awkward, gently turn your head in both directions to release tension.
Teaching Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi III
These cues will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:
- If you want to twist more deeply, take your straight leg wider than your hip, lean back slightly, and then roll your lower abdomen toward your bent leg before coming back into the pose.
- Move your sacrum, at the base of the spine, with the pelvis as you reach your extended leg forward. Step firmly on the sole of your bent-leg foot. These actions will help to protect the lower back from injury to the SI joint.
- If your lower back is rounding, sit on several folded blankets to help the sacrum lift up and lengthen the lumbar spine.
Variation: Gentle seated twist
For a more gentle twist, place your palm over your knee rather than hooking your elbow to the outside of your knee. Bend only one knee and put that foot flat on the floor. You may keep that foot there or cross it over your other leg.