This gentle twist is a tonic for the spine and the abdominal organs.
Bharadvaja = one of seven legendary seers, credited with composing the hymns collected in the Vedas.
Bharadvaja’s Twist: Step-by-Step Instructions
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Shift over onto your right buttock, bend your knees, and swing your legs to the left. Lay your feet on the floor outside your left hip, with the left ankle resting in the right arch.
Inhale and lift through the top of the sternum to lengthen the front torso. Then exhale and twist your torso to the right, keeping the left buttock on or very close to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor to keep the lower back long. Soften the belly.
Tuck your left hand under your right knee and bring your right hand to the floor just beside your right buttock. Pull your left shoulder back slightly, pressing your shoulder blades firmly against your back even as you continue to twist the chest to the right.
You can turn your head in one of two directions: continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at your feet.
With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, using the push of the fingers on the floor to help; with every exhalation twist a little more. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time.
Contraindications and Cautions
- High blood pressure
- Low blood pressure
Modifications and Props
For an easier variation of this pose, sit sideways on a chair with the chair back to your right. Bring your knees together and your heels directly below your knees. Exhale and twist toward the chair back. Hold onto the sides of the chair back and lift your elbows up and out to the sides, as if you were pulling the chair back apart. Use the arms to help widen the upper back and move the twist into the space between the shoulder blades.
Deepen the Pose
You can increase the challenge in this pose by slightly varying the position of the arms and hands. First, exhale and swing your right arm around behind your back as you twist to the right. If you can, grip the left arm just at the elbow with the right hand; if you can’t, hold a strap looped around the left elbow. Then turn your left arm outward (so the palm faces away from the knees) and slip the hand under the right knee, palm on the floor.
If you tilt onto the twisting-side buttock (which compresses the lower back), raise it up on a thickly folded blanket. Consciously sink both sitting bones toward the floor.
- Stretches the spine, shoulders, and hips
- Massages the abdominal organs
- Relieves lower backache, neck pain, and sciatica
- Helps relieve stress
- Improves digestion
- Especially good in the second trimester of pregnancy for strengthening the lower back
- Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome
A partner can help you learn to ground the opposite-side buttock. If you are twisting to the right, have your partner stand to your left side and place his/her left foot on the very top of your left thigh, with the inner edge of the foot in the groin. Apply gentle pressure at first, then increase the pressure as seems appropriate. Exhale into your twist but keep the top left thigh releasing away from your partner’s foot.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front. Exhale and draw your left leg into Virasana (Hero Pose), then your right leg into Padmasana (Lotus Pose). If the right knee doesn’t rest comfortably on the floor, support it with a thickly folded blanket. Twist to the right and with your left hand grip the outside of the right knee. With an expressive exhalation, swing your right arm around behind your back and grip the right foot. If it isn’t possible to grip the foot directly, use a strap.