Pose Dedicated To The Sage Marichi C, Marichyasana C, (muh-ree-ch-yaa-suh-nuh III)
marichi (sage / rsi mareechi / ray of light) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Seated Spinal Twist
This seated twist offers a deep stretch to the ribs, shoulders, and back, and is a wise pose to add into any yoga routine
Marichyasana C Fundamentals
Marichyasana C is a seated twisting pose, included in Ashtanga primary series. It is one of the four variations of Marichyasana in this sequence.
The pose is similar to Maricyhasana A, but instead of a forward fold, it includes a twist. For this reason, it may be a good idea to prep with Marichyasana A even if you are not going through the whole Ashtanga sequence.
Although you can definitely learn the pose alone, Marichyasana C is easier to understand if you have a teacher to adjust you. They can show you how you can keep your spine upright while twisting, which makes the pose more efficient.
The main focus of the pose is increasing the mobility of the spine, which helps improve our overall flexibility, breath, and posture. It is fantastic for those who seat for long periods of time and want to work on improving their postural habits and releasing back pain.Twisting movements also release blockages, purifying the body and boosting circulation, metabolism, digestion, and energy flow in the body.
The pose is named after god’s Brahma son, Marichi who is known as the master of illusions.
Lord Brahma created his sons in order to complete his process of creation of the universe as well as to father the human race. Each one of them has a particular role, and Marichi’s main role is to awaken people from their delusions.
With that in mind, when practicing Marichyasana poses, you can think about your own delusions and illusions, and how you can overcome them to grow.
Marichyasana C stimulates Manipura chakra, so you can also include it in your practice when you want to work on balancing the Solar Plexus, and building your confidence and willpower.
Marichyasana C Benefits
- Lengthens and improves the flexibility of the spine, shoulders, and intercostal muscles (the muscles around the ribs).
- Often these are the areas where we hold a lot of tension, and by opening them we can work on improving our posture and breathing, and release chronic back pain.
- Massages the organs of the abdomen, which may boost digestion and detoxification, and help with constipation.
- The pose is complex and requires attention and focus, so it may help you develop these skills for other yoga poses as well.
- Since it is an asymmetrical pose, it may help you combat any imbalances in your body.
- The twisting movements stimulate and calm the nerves that go through the spine, so it may bring a calming effect.
Marichyasana C: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
- Begin in Staff Pose, seated on the floor with your feet extended in front of you.
- Now bend the right knee and bring the foot on the mat, close to your hips.
- Place your right hand on the floor and lift your left arm up.
- With an exhalation, twist your torso towards the right.
- Move your left arm across the right thigh, so the upper arm is pressing against the outer side of the right knee.
- Bend the elbow of the left arm and point your fingers upward.
- With every inhale try to elongate your spine, and with every exhale, twist a bit further.
- Hold the pose for 5 deep and slow breaths, then slowly release. Go through a Vinyasa, or take a moment in Staff Pose, and then move to the other side.
Tips And Tricks:
- It’s more important to keep your spine long than to twist deep. Therefore, sit up on props or use other modifications that help you stay long, instead of forcing the twist.
- Spread your toes wide and flex the foot of the stretched leg to engage the muscles.
- Don’t force the hips to stay glued to the mat – allow them to lift when you twist if that’s more natural for you. This is not one of the seated poses where you need to ground through both sit bones.
Marichyasana C Variations:
Open Twist Variation
Closed twists are difficult if you have a larger stomach or lack flexibility in the shoulders, and should not be done by pregnant women. Instead, try an open-twist variation.
To do that, grab hold of the right (bent) knee with the right hand and twist towards the left side.
With A Bind
The full expression of this pose includes a bind.
This variation is more difficult and requires you to have open shoulders. It is also one of those poses that depend on your anatomy, as those with longer hands will find the bind more accessible.
To go into a bind, begin in the last step of the pose, as we described above.
Now your left arm is pressed against the outer right knee. The next step is to bring your foot closer to your hip, and to internally rotate the left arm so that the thumb points downward.
Wrap the left arm around the right knee, and bring the right hand behind your back to grab hold of the left.
If that’s difficult or causes you to round your spine, use a strap. You will still get the sensation of binding, but will not compromise the alignment of the spine.
With A Block
If you have shorter legs or thigh hamstrings, you might struggle with keeping the back long or keeping the arm wrapped around the leg.
The best way to overcome this is to use a block. In case of tight hamstrings, sit on top of a yoga block or a folded blanket to lift your pelvis.
In the case of short legs, your arms could slide off the knee in a bind, so you can place the foot of your bent leg on a block to add height.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Incorrect twisting. Beginners will often try to force the twist. Instead, focus on keeping your spine long, and begin twisting from your low back and twist your head last. Keep the neck in line with the rest of the spine instead of rotating the head too far.
Shallow breath. Closed twists can make breathing difficult. It is normal for your breath to be a bit more restricted, but try to go only as far in the pose as you can while still being connected to your breath.
Falling back. Many beginners will lean back too much, especially if they try to bind and struggle with it. Instead, keep one hand on the floor to help push your weight forward. This will also help you to maintain a long spine.
Injuries and Contraindications
If you are pregnant, avoid this pose and practice the open twist we described above instead.
Due to the twist and compression of the abdomen, this pose is not recommended for those with high or low blood pressure, insomnia, spinal or back injuries, digestive issues like diarrhea, and menstruation. However, you might still be able to perform a more gentle variation of the pose but do so under guidance of a teacher.
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