Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana) Illustration by Andrea Drugay
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Twisting your torso is a great way to wake up your body at the beginning of the day, and to decompress at the end of a long day. When you twist your body, it’s just like wringing out a sponge: it can feel like you’re squeezing out the anxieties and frustrations of the day! But twists have another benefit: they stimulate your digestive organs, which helps them to work more efficiently, releasing toxins and revitalizing your whole body!
After a time of over-indulgence, twists can help re-start your balance and health. Yoga poses like Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana) are a gentle and easy way to twist your torso, stretch your body, and re-balance your digestive system.
Benefits of Twists
Twisting increases spinal flexibility and helps to open the shoulders and hips. It can also help to reduce tension in the neck and abdomen. The action also compresses and massages the abdomninal organs, which helps to push stagnant blood and toxins from your kidneys, liver, and spleen. When you release the twist, your organs receive a new, fresh supply of blood that stimulates metabolism and digestion and helps to flush away those toxins.
It can be deeply relaxing to twist, because the action also calms your nervous system! Adding a few twists at the beginning and end of your day will help your body to release tension, stress, and toxins, which can result in a happy and healthy mind, body, and spirit!
Stuff to Know:
- Yoga should be used in conjunction with, not as a replacement for, standard medical and therapeutic procedures. If you have any medical or health concerns, please consult a medical professional before practicing yoga.
- Avoid practicing this pose if you have a back injury, degenerative disk disease, or a recent or chronic injury to your hips or knees.
- Keep your breath smooth and even. Do not hold your breath.
- Never force your knee to the floor. Be gentle!
- If you feel any sharp, pinching, or jabbing pain anywhere in your body during the pose, stop and come out of it slowly. Do not force the twist.
How to practice Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana):
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Draw both knees to your chest and clasp your hands around them.
- Extend your left leg along the floor. Keep your right knee drawn to your chest.
- Extend your right arm out along the floor at shoulder-height with your palm facing down.
- Shift your hips slightly to the right. Then, place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Exhaling, drop your right knee over the left side of your body. Keep your left hand resting gently on your right knee.
- Turn your head to the right. Soften your gaze toward your right fingertips. Keep your shoulder blades pressing toward the floor and away from your ears. Allow the force of gravity to drop your knee even closer to the floor. If your right toes can touch the floor, allow your foot to rest.
- Hold the pose for up to 5 minutes. On an inhalation, slowly come back to center, bringing both knees to your chest.
- Exhale, and extend your right leg along the floor. Repeat steps 4-7 on the opposite side.
- When you’re finished with the pose, hug your knees to your chest for a few breaths. Then, slowly exhale as you extend both legs along the floor.
Do you practice yoga twists?
Do you have any other tips for easing digestion?