Bharadvaja’s Twist, Bharadvajasana, (bhuh-ruhd-vaa-jaa-suh-nuh)
bharadvaja (sage/risi bharadvaja) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Torso Stretch Pose
Increase your spinal awareness and strengthen and stimulate your spine, neck, and shoulders in this seated twist
Bharadvaja’s Twist Pose Fundamentals
This seated twist may not be as popular as other twisting yoga poses but it is a deeply delicious one that can feel like a full self-body massage. Bharadvaja’s Twist will invigorate a tired spine that has been holding itself up all day while also tending to a crampy or bloated stomach.
This pose in a word is rejuvenating.
Also known as Sage’s Twist, this pose is in dedication to the ancient sage and wise rishi Bharadvaja, one of the seven great sages of India. A rishi or sage is a man of great wisdom or one who possesses divine spiritual knowledge. This twisting pose is meant to rest, refresh and replenish you.
Allow this twist to be a gentle and warm hug and let yourself melt into it. Slow your roll and come into this pose from a place of loving awareness.Incorporating a spinal twist into your daily practice or even at your desk can help ground restless Vata energy and engage your Apana Vayu, which governs the downward and outward flow of energy within the body. With proper alignment and attention to the right areas, you can enjoy a deeper Bharadvaja’s Twist and increased benefit to all the parts of your spine.
Bharadvaja’s Twist Pose Benefits
- Supports smooth digestion and relieves bloating, gas, and symptoms of acid reflux
- Tones the core and all sides of the torso
- Great for relieving symptoms of PMS
- Creates a feeling of integrity in the body and improves circulation
- Soothes an achy spine that’s been sitting all day, opens the shoulders, and stretches the neck.
- Stretches the back muscles that support the spine
- Calms the nervous system
How To Do Bharadvaja’s Twist Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Come to sit on the floor in easy pose. Mindfully swing your feet over to the right and your kees over to the left. Feet come beside the right hip, the right ankle can rest into the arch of the left foot. Bump your hips a little to accommodate the pose then adjust to root both sit bones into the floor. Grab a blanket to place under the sit bones if they start to lift up.
2. Ground through both sit bones into the earth as you lengthen through the spine and imagine a line from the crown of the head to the tip of the tailbone.
3. From your core turn your torso over to the left. Straighten out your right arm placing it on the outside of the left knee. (If your right hip raises off the ground energetically drive it down and work on bringing it even with the other hip.
4. Gently reach your left hand behind you and rest it on the back right side or crevice of the right hip, opening up through the left shoulder. Careful not to lead with the head and force or crank into the twist. With an inhale lengthen and on the exhale find extension from the base of the spine through the crown of the head.
5. Clasp the right upper arm or right elbow with your left hand to stabilize and deepen your twist.
6. If accessible to you, try placing the right hand directly under the left knee and rooting the right palm down into the earth.
7. Lastly, gently turn the neck to gaze past the right shoulder. Stay here for 30 seconds or 6-8 breaths. Repeat on the other side. The tendency might want to be to slingshot out of the twist but see if you can be mindful by slowly coming out of your bind and bringing the spine back to a neutral position.
Tips And Tricks:
- Grab a blanket to sit on if your sit bones don’t root down evenly into the ground.
- Try placing a blanket over your yoga mat to pad your ankles and knees especially if they feel stiff or fragile.
- Twist from the base of the spinal column and feel yourself travel up through all parts of the spine. It’s ok to not come into the twist you see in yoga magazines, it’s much better to ease into this pose to your own degree and keep integrity than to force yourself into the twist that feels tense and miss out on the spinal benefits of this pose.
- Connect to an upward current of energy that lifts you in the front body and a downward current of energy that ground you in the back of your body.
Bharadvaja’s Twist Pose Variations:
Bharadvaja’s Twist Pose Variation: Bharadvaja’s Twist With Blanket
If one hip is higher than the other when you turn your feet over to one side and both sit bones do not root evenly into the ground come to sit on a folded-up blanket to bring the ground up to meet you and create alignment and good form in this pose.
Bharadvaja’s Twist Pose Variation: Bharadvaja’s Twist With A Chair
For a simpler but just as effective variation, grab a chair and sit sideways on it with the right side of your body facing the back of the chair. Feel free to use a blanket under the sit bones for added stability.
Position the legs at an angle underneath you, hugging the knees together and the ankles directly underneath. Gently twist open toward the back of the chair as you grip both sides firmly. Have your neck be the last thing to turn and bring the gaze past the right shoulder. Stop when you feel a comfortable level of stretch. Hold and breathe for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Precautions & Contraindications:
- We love a good twisting pose but excitedly or with a loss of awareness we may twist with the neck or head first. This cranking into the twist results in tensing of the neck and gives the illusion that you are rotating the spine but not much actual movement is happening. Instead, twist from the base of your spine and spiral upward to properly support your spine in the twist.
- Hyperextension in the spine and neck is common in this pose. To avoid this, try twisting using only your torso to guide you before using the arms
- Rounding in the back to be able to reach the hands towards full extension under the knee and elbow. Instead, focus on opening the chest and lengthening your spine.
Knee, Shoulder, Or Neck Injuries
This pose requires flexion in the neck, knee joints, and shoulders. If you feel any pain in any of these areas or are recovering from an injury, honor your body and come out of the pose. Practice Easy Seat or Easy Twist instead.
This pose involves applying pressure to the hips, if recovering from hip surgery or injury try an easy seat on a chair instead or skip this pose.
Parivrtta Sukhasana (Easy Seated Twist)
Marichyasana (Pose to Sage Marichi)
Dandasana (Seated Staff Pose )
Bharadvaja’s counter twist on the opposite side
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