Benefits: This simple twist is very effective for releasing tension in the neck, shoulders, and spine. When we twist to both sides, we can find our center. This twist is an opportunity to turn our attention inward to discover the wisdom we have deep within our own bodies.
Contraindications (cautions): Diarrhea, Headache, High blood pressure, Insomnia, Low blood pressure, Menstruation.
Step by Step
1. Sit with legs in Dandasana/Seated Staff Pose. Bend the knees and bring both feet beside the left hip, soles facing up. Have the left foot underneath, and the top of the right foot resting cupped in the sole of the left foot. Thighbones roughly parallel.
2. Press the sitting bones of both buttocks into the floor and lengthen up through the spine. Take your left arm across the body and place the left hand on top of the right knee. Take your right hand to the floor behind you.
3. Inhale, float and lift the torso longer. Exhale, keep length in the spine, spiral into a deep upward moving twist from the lower left abdomen to the right shoulder. Stay here for a least five breaths or move on to step 4.
4. Inhale and lean forward slightly, take the right arm behind the waist and clasp the upper left arm with the right hand. It helps to lean farther forward to establish a grip. Bring the spine more to vertical once again. Tuck your chin in and turn the head to gaze over the right shoulder.
5. Breathe here for five to ten breaths, elongating the spine on each inhalation and gently squeezing farther into the twist on each exhalation. Press the back of the wrist away from your torso and move your right shoulder farther back to deepen the twist. Anchor more through the left sitting bone.
6. Release the arms as you inhale, stretch the legs out, and repeat on the other side.
7. Counterpose: Purvottanasana/East Stretch pose or Paschimottanasana/Double Leg Forward Bend Pose.