Side Bending/Seated Spinal Twist

Side Bending/Seated Spinal Twist (Matsyedrasana)

It is essential for spinal health to move the column of vertebrae in all of its possible directions of movement often, if not daily. First begin with lateral side bending to the right and left. With awareness, especially the breath, inhale the arms up and release the left arm to the chair edge or leg. Bend the elbow to a degree, reach the right arm up and over to the left. Keep the right sitting bone in contact with the seat. As the breath on the inhale guides the expansion, allow the exhale to lengthen from fingers down to the sit bones. Complete this for 3-5 breaths. Engage the pelvic floor and core and start to raise both arms over head. Looking to center and arms release down. Switch sides (Figure 7).

Figure 7.
Photo showing side bending/seated spinal twist.

For a gentle spinal twist, inhale the arms up, exhale, turn left taking the left arm down gently behind you or down low by the leg of the chair. Bring the right hand on the outside of the left thigh. Turn gently in that direction to initiate the twist. Now, let the breath guide the movement, lengthen the spine upon inhale, and use the arms to hold, rotating the torso to the left. Be sure to stay tall and upright in the spine. Move from the deep belly, then the shoulders and finally gaze back behind for the whole long 4 count exhale. Remain there, gaze steady at some point behind, relax the belly and soften in the hips. Inhale again initiate spinal length and exhale from there deepening the turn. Engage the arms and soften. Move from the belly first, then the shoulders and finally the eyes to a point slightly further behind. Remember to keep the hips and belly and legs soft to further open and release the low back, feet in contact with the floor without grip. Do this for 3-5 breaths for each side (Figure 8).

Figure 8a.
Photo showing gentle spinal twist.
Figure 8b.
Photo showing gentle spinal twisting.