It is often said that spinal twists are the squeeze and soak asanas. When we practice these poses we are wringing out all the physical toxins in the body by squeezing out the stale blood from the digestive organs and then soaking them with fresh revitalizing blood. This helps to detoxify the body by stimulating the elimination system. Physically this helps us to become less lethargic and more energized. We are also able to bring more energy into the upper back which can be a “dead area” for many people.
On a mental, emotional and energetic level, we wring out toxins as well. Spinal
twists associate with the third energy center, the Solar Plexus Chakra. We can carry negative feelings such as anger and resentment in this area which can lead to physical issues such as ulcers or irritable bowel syndrome. When our energy center is flowing freely, we can connect to our personal power and will. We relate better to the world around us.
Marichyasana III has many other benefits including stretching the shoulders, stimulating the brain, relieving mild back and hip pain, and strengthening and stretching the spine. Therapeutically, along with aiding the digestive system, this asana helps with constipation, asthma, fatigue, sciatica and menstrual discomfort. Use caution when performing this pose or omit if you have serious back or spinal injury, insomnia, headache or pregnancy.
Start this pose by sitting on your mat and removing the flesh away from the sits bones. Find yourself becoming firmly rooted into the earth to draw strength from the Earth’s energy. If you find sitting up straight to be difficult, prop yourself up on a blanket to release the hamstrings and to prevent the pelvis from tipping back. It is important to have a straight, lengthened spine when performing spinal twists. Start by bending the right knee and drawing your foot in towards the sits bone. If you have enough hip flexibility, you can cross the foot over the left leg and pull it in tightly. Your extended leg (the left one) should be firmly rooted into the Earth with the foot flexed and leg active. Hug your right leg with the left arm and bring your right hand around and place it close to your tail bone. Depending on your own body, you may need to be on finger tips or a block to prevent from leaning back to keep the spine perpendicular to the Earth. Keep your shoulders released away from your ears.
Inhale and begin to lengthen the spine further. As you start to rotate, think of your spine as a spiral staircase, rotating slowly from the bottom to the top. Begin to rotate from your belly, then your ribs, chest, shoulder and finally your neck and head. With each inhale, continue to elongate the spine and with each exhale, rotating deeper into the pose. Allow your breath to expand into the right side of your body as you feel the energy move all the way up your spine.
Deepening the pose:
If you’d like to make the rotation even deeper, take the arm that’s hugging the leg and bring the elbow to the outside of the knee. Gently pressing into the knee to rotate further will allow for more leverage to deepen the pose.
When you have taken 5 to 10 breaths, return to hugging the leg and take one last inhale. On the exhale, return to the starting position and switch sides to balance out the body.
When you have completed this asana you’ll enjoy the benefits of feeling the space and energy running through the spine. Your back will benefit this pose along with your digestive organs and your emotional disposition. Practicing spinal twists daily can greatly improve your digestive and elimination system.