Bharadvajasana I – Pose dedicated to the sage Bharadvaja bharadvaja – a proper name, the name of a sage asana - pose
1. From vajrasana, sit the hips to the right of the feet. 2. Inhale and lift the left arm. 3. Exhale, and reaching across the front of the torso, place the left palm on the floor beneath the right thigh. 4. The right hand can then go behind the back to the left thigh or to the left arm.
Bharadvajasana can be entered from dandasana or vajrasana. Entering from vajrasana is usually more accessible because it does not require anything from the hamstrings. From vajrasana, sit the hips to the right of the feet. Place the left foot onto the right arch.
With an inhalation, lift the inner body and the left arm. (The left hip joint may want to lift as well. Keep this to a minimum by pulling it towards the floor.) With an exhalation, keep the left shoulder in external rotation as you bring the left arm down in front of the torso with the palm forward and the fingertips facing down. Continue bringing the arm down and place the palm on the floor below the right thigh.
Internally rotate the right shoulder and reach the right arm behind the back. You can place the right palm on the floor for support behind you or reach it around to the left thigh. If it is comfortable, you can also grab hold of the upper left arm with the right hand.
Placing the hand on the thigh or clasping the left arm will tend to deepen the feeling of extension in the torso. This, along with the placement of the hips to the right of the feet, will tend to create lateral asymmetry in the torso. To bring the torso in the direction of neutrality, lengthen the left side of the torso as the right ribs move in toward the spine.
You can turn the head in the direction of the twist or let it remain neutral. In every day movement, we tend to initiate the turning and twisting of our torso from the cervical spine, however the head should really follow the rotation of the thoracic spine and not initiate it. In most seated twists, the head can either go in the direction of the twist or just as easily turn in the opposite direction. The neck will feel good in either variation.
To release the pose, return to vajrasana or dandasana and let the breath in the belly return to symmetry. Perform the asana on the other side.
(Maricyasana III - Complete version)
Maricyasana III – Pose dedicated to the sage Marici marici - proper name, the name of a sage asana - pose
1. Sit on the floor with the left leg straight in front of you, the right knee bent, and the right foot on the floor. 2. Inhale, lengthen the inner body, and lift the left arm. 3. Exhale and bring the upper left arm around the outside of the right knee, wrapping the left forearm around the back. Use it to clasp the right wrist or right hand behind the back.
VARIATION 1 Begin in dandasana. Keep the left leg straight and bend the right knee. Place the right foot on the floor in front of, or if possible, just outside of the right sitting bone. Placing the right foot to the right of the sitting bone will bias the hip joint toward internal rotation as in virasana. This will assist the proper hip opening needed to complete the twist.
With an inhalation, lift the left arm and lengthen the inner body. This will create space between the vertebrae, which will create the space in the spine and visceral body needed for the rotation. Let this lift also create a little extra length in the front body. Twists have more in common with spinal extension than spinal flexion. The extension is not easy to maintain in this pose, so you might want to exaggerate it a bit before you twist, in order to sustain it.
VARIATION 1 With an exhalation, soften the belly and initiate the rotation as a soft visceral action from the belly. Then deepen the rotation from the thoracic spine, where most of the vertebral rotation will actually occur. Place the upper left arm outside the right leg at the knee. Keep the left forearm lifted with the palm forward (see photo page 184). This will motivate external rotation in the left shoulder and help keep the chest open. The right palm can rest on the floor behind the back for support. This will offer leverage, and together with the left arm, help to deepen the rotation of the spine.
VARIATION 2 If variation 1 is comfortable enough, and the breath can remain smooth and not labored, internally rotate the left arm and grab hold of the right foot (see photo page 184). The internal rotation of the left shoulder will deepen the rotation but also make the chest opening more of a challenge.
COMPLETE VERSION If performing variation 2 is comfortable and the chest can remain reasonably open, you can move to performing the complete maricyasana III pose by deepening the internal rotation of the left shoulder and reaching the left arm behind the back.
Internally rotate the right arm and bending the right elbow, bring the right arm behind the back, holding the right hand or wrist with the left hand. If it is comfortable, the head can turn in the direction of the twist. If not , the head can turn forward or in the opposite direction. Since the inner body is deeply rotated, the depth of the breath may be challenged.
Relaxing the tongue to maximize the release of the inner body will help to keep the breath as full as possible. Allow the inhalations to reaffirm the inner body length as the exhalations continue to soften the viscera. Also let the exhalations soften the back muscles away from the spine without losing inner body length.
Hold the pose for half a minute or longer, and then release. Sit in dandasana for a while and observe the breath in the lower belly. It is likely that the breath will be dominant in one side. Stay in dandasana and breath until the belly is responding symmetrically to the breath again. Perform the asana on the other side.
(Maricyasana III - Variation 1)
(Maricyasana III - Variation 2)
(Jathara Parivartanasana I)
Jathara Parivartanasana I - Revolved stomach pose jathara - stomach parivartana - turning or rolling around asana - pose
Two versions of this supine twist are offered this month. The first is a relatively non- muscular twist (Jathara Parivartanasana I) that is available to students on any level. It is performed one leg at a time.
The second version (Jathara Parivartanasana II) is a more challenging asana that requires the practitioner to engage the abdominal muscles within the context of a rotation. It is performed with both legs at the same time.
1. Lie on the back and bring the right foot onto the left thigh, near the knee. 2. Place the left hand on the outside of the right knee. Then extend the right arm along the floor so it lies 90 degrees to the spine. 3. Shift the left hip to the right as you bring the right knee to the floor on the left, with the left arm.
Begin lying on the floor as in savasana. Bring the right foot onto the left thigh near the knee. Place the left hand on the outside of the right knee. Shift the left hip to the right, so your right side is on the floor. This shift in the hips permits the spine to more easily rotate around its axis with minimal lateral distortion.
Rotate the spine as you bring the right knee towards the floor with your left hand on your left side. Try to keep the scapulae on the floor as much as reasonably possible. If the shoulders and scapulae lift too far from the floor the scapulae may dig into the back which could aggravate the inner rhomboid muscles. Shift the hips as needed so that in the full twist, the pelvic bones come as close as possible to stacking right over left. Let the head turn to the right as though the neck originated from the mid-thoracic spine. This will assist in keeping the chest open.
Keep the left leg alive, extending it from the groin out through the heel. Lengthen the breath as much as possible, particularly the exhalations. Let the exhalations release the inner body and back muscles.
Release the pose and bring the hips back to a neutral position. Rest in savasana, allowing the breath to return to equilibrium, and perform the asana on the opposite side.
(Jathara Parivartanasana II)
Jathara Parivartanasana II - Revolved stomach pose jathara - stomach parivartana - turning or rolling around asana - pose
1. Lie on the back with the legs joined perpendicular to the floor. 2. Shift the pelvis to the right as the joined legs move toward the floor, to the left. 3. Breath in the belly with the legs joined, keeping the shoulders on the floor.
Begin lying on the back as in savasana. Extend both arms outward on the floor so they are 90 degrees to the spine. Keep the shoulders in external rotation so that the chest remains open and the scapulae are flat on the floor. (Doing this with the palms facing upward will facilitate the external rotation of the shoulders. However, a more stable position will be maintained if done with the palms facing downward, assuming the chest can remain open.)
Lift both legs perpendicular to the floor. Join the legs like mirrored images. Keep as much of the inner legs joined as possible throughout the entire practice of this asana, including the ankles and the feet. With a slight lift of the pelvis, shift the pelvis to the right. Rotate the spine as you lower the legs toward the floor to the left. The legs will try to separate, so extend out through the upper leg a little extra to keep them accurately joined. Bring the feet toward the left hand. Go as far into the twist as possible without allowing the scapulae to lift off of the floor. The legs are not likely to actually reach the floor but remain some distance away from it.
The abdominal muscles will be engaged, so be mindful not to harden the visceral body and to keep the belly responsive to the breath. When you are ready to release the asana, lift the legs back to a vertical position as you return the pelvis to its center. You can bend the knees and rest the feet on the floor, or you can keep the legs straight and slowly lower them back to the floor.
Remain with the feet or legs on the floor and let the breath response in the belly neutralize by extending the exhalations before practicing the other side.
Ardha Navasana - Half boat pose ardha - half nava - boat asana - pose 1. Sit in dandasana with the fingers interlaced behind the neck. 2. Keep the belly responsive to the breath and rest back on the sacrum. 3. Let the legs come away from the floor.
Sit in dandasana for a moment and let the breath become stable in the belly. Interlace the fingers behind the neck. Keep the breath moving in the belly as you slowly lean back to bring the face of the sacrum to the floor. No other part of the spine should touch the floor.
At the beginning, this asana may be performed with the legs on the floor, working them as in dandasana. As you feel more stable in the asana, they will easily lift away from the floor. There may be a tendency for the legs to externally rotate and come apart, so you will have to work the legs in internal rotation a little more to keep the inner legs joined. Particularly try to keep the inner anklebones, inner heels, and the inner edges of the ball mounts of the big toes joined. This is the same work that you will do in every asana where the legs are off the floor and joined. Keep the tongue relaxed and the inner body as soft as possible even though the abdominal muscles are engaged.
Adrha navasana (half boat) addresses the lower abdominal muscles whereas paripurna navasana (full boat) works more with the length of the abdominal muscles. Ardha navasana is usually performed before paripurna navasana, but if you are only going to do one, paripurna navasana is probably the better choice.
Paripurna Navasana - Full boat pose paripurna - full/whole nava - boat asana - pose
1. Sit in dandasana with the fingers on the floor beside the thighs, facing the feet. 2. With an exhalation, lift the legs and balance on the sitting bones. 3. Extend the arms in the air parallel to the floor, with the palms facing each other.
Although the visceral body needs to be soft, the abdominal muscles need to have good tone. Remember good tone means that a muscle is strong when needed, but can also completely relax. This is especially true with the abdominals.
We live in a culture that places an unhealthy emphasis on having a hard, flat stomach. This is not a healthy model.
The belly of a small child is soft, open and slightly rounded. This is normal. A hard, flat belly is not. The belly needs to be soft and open in order to respond to the breath and maintain a healthy visceral function.
When performing navasana, the abdominals are engaged, but without obstructing the breath. The strength in this asana comes as much from the ilio-psoas muscles and from hip stability as it does from the abdominal muscles.
Begin by sitting in dandasana. If the hamstrings are too heavily challenged in dandasana, you may need to bend the knees to bring the spine to a neutral position. Either way, you should be on the inner front edges of the sitting bones. You will not literally remain there while holding navasana, but a similar feeling will remain in the pelvis, belly, and spine. Find the breath in the belly and allow it to move there through out this pose.
Place the fingertips on the floor outside of the thighs. Inhale and lengthen the inner body. Then with the exhalation, push with the hands and lift the legs off of the floor as you lean back onto the sitting bones. There will be a tendency to collapse the lumbar spine, however this action should be kept to a minimum. Though the lumbar will not have its full natural lordosis in this pose, if the lumbar overly flattens, the breath will be inhibited in the belly.
Lift the arms in the air so they are parallel to the floor and face the palms toward each other. The arms should be actively extended. The skin of the palms will feel slightly taught. Keep the scapulae flat and into the back and the sternum lifted.
Remain in this pose as long as the breath moves the belly. When you are ready to release, simply return the legs to the floor. After releasing the pose, lengthen the exhalations to help release any inner body gripping which may have occurred.
BENEFITS OF TWISTS
1. Lengthens the spine.
2. Reduces cramps and indigestion while toning the abdominal area.
3. Helps prevent and relieve lower back pain caused by muscle tension.
4. Relieves back muscle tension by bringing the vertebrae into alignment.
5. Allows fresh blood to surge into the internal organs flushing out waste and purifying the organs.
6. Improves the circulation to the spinal nerves, muscles, and discs.
7. Squeezes the discs allowing them to remain plump and full.
8. Relieves pinched nerves and strengthens the nervous system.
9. Musculature and fascia around the waist and ribcage are freed up, producinggreater mobility for the lungs and diaphragm and improved respiration.
10. Revitalizes the internal organs of digestion, assimilation, and elimination.
11. Improves energy by increasing the blood flow into adrenal glands.
12. Squeezes and stretches the lateral walls of the heart, improving cardiac functioning.
13. Gall bladder is squeezed and bile is milked out which improves fat digestion. 14. Allows one to sit more comfortably in seated meditation poses.