Bharadvajasana I (Bharadvaja’s Twist)

(Bha-rad-va-jas-ana)

Type of Pose: Seated, Twist

Benefits

• Stretches the spine, shoulders and hips
• Massages the abdominal organs and improves digestion
• Relieves lower back ache, neck pain and sciatica
• Helps relieve stress
• Especially good in the second trimester of pregnancy for strengthening the lower back
• Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome

Contraindications/Cautions

• Diarrhea
• Headache
• High blood pressure/ Low blood pressure
• Insomnia
• Menstruation

Step by SteP

1. Sit on the floor with the legs straight out. Shift over onto the right buttock, bend the knees and swing the legs to the left. Lay the feet on the floor outside the left hip, with the left ankle resting in the right arch.

2. Inhale and lift through the top of the sternum to lengthen the front torso. Then exhale and twist the torso to the right, keeping the left buttock on or very close to the floor.

3. Tuck the left hand under the right knee and bring the right hand to the floor just beside the right buttock, or around the back of the waist, palm facing outward and if possible clasping the left arm. Lengthen the tailbone toward the floor to keep the lower back long. Soften the belly. Pull the left shoulder back slightly, pressing the shoulder blades firmly against the back, even as you continue to twist the chest to the right.

4. The head can turn 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.

5. 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. Release with an exhalation, return to the starting point and repeat to the left for the same length of time.

Modifications: For an easier variation of this pose, sit sideways on a chair with the chair back to the right. Bring the knees together with the heels directly below the knees. Exhale and twist toward the chair back. Hold onto the sides of the chair back and lift the 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.

Variation: Bharadvajasana II – Sit on the floor with the legs straight out in front. Exhale and draw the left leg into Virasana and the 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 the left hand, grip the outside of the right knee. With an expressive exhalation, swing the right arm around behind the back and grip the right foot. If it isn’t possible to grip the foot directly, use a strap.

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