Marichyasana I, also known as Seated Spinal Twist I, or Sage Twist Pose, strengthens and stretches your spine while stretching your shoulders and activating your brain.
It provides relief to people suffering from back pain and hip pain. Experts also believe that Marichyasana I can provide relief for indigestion, constipation, back pain, restlessness, tiredness and asthma.
|Known as:||Marichyasana I, Seated Spinal Twist I, Marichyasana A, Seated Spinal Twist A, Marichi’s Pose, Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi I, Sage Twist Pose, One-Legged Seated Spinal Twist Pose, Great sage pose|
|Pose type:||Twist, Forward bend|
|Total time:||30 to 60 seconds|
|Chakra:||Manipura Chakra, Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra|
|Indications:||Constipation, asthma, exhaustion, backache, hip pain|
|Counterpose:||Dandasana (Staff Pose)|
|Preparatory poses:||Butterfly Pose, Deer Pose, Seated Torso Circles, Bharadvaja’s twist, Cow Face Pose, Side Twist Pose, Half Lord Of the Fish Pose, Head-to-knee Forward Bend Pose, Reclining bound angle pose, Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose, Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend Pose, Hero Pose|
|Follow-up poses:||Staff Pose Hands Back Knees Bent Pose, Staff Pose Hands Back Pose, Matsyendrasana, Cobbler’s Pose, Shoulder Supported Bridge Pose, Wind Release Pose, Lotus Pose, Upavistha Konasana|
|Contraindications:||Low or high blood pressure, insomnia, migraines, Knee injury, hip injuries, spinal injury, diarrhea, Pregnancy (after the first trimester)|
Meaning + Origin
The Marichyasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of two words — Marichi + asana:
- “Marichi” = “ray of light (of the sun or moon)”
- “asana” = “pose or posture”
Marichyasana is named after the great Hindu sage Marichi, who was the son of Lord Brahma. This is because Maharishi Marichi popularized this asana among other yogis only.
As it is traditionally believed that this yoga asana ignites inner light and wisdom, hence the name.
The pose is not found in medieval Hatha yoga texts, but is described in Krishnamacharya’s 1934 Yoga Makaranda, followed by the teachings of his pupils B.K.S Iyenger and Pattabhi Jois.
Benefits of Marichyasana I (Seated Spinal Twist I)
Fingers are strengthened with the practice of Marichyasana I (Seated Spinal Twist I). Leaning forward and resting the chin on the knee of the extended leg, the abdominal organs strongly contract. This improves blood circulation in the abdominal organs and keeps them healthy.
Sitting with a satisfying bend on the spine is all that it demands to provide immense physical and mental benefits.
- Physical Benefits:
- Mental Benefits:
Steps to Marichyasana I (Seated Spinal Twist I)
- Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Press your hands down on the floor to lengthen your spine.
- Bend the left knee and place your foot on the floor near your right thigh. Distribute the weight evenly between your sit bones. Place your arms behind you and press your fingers to the floor. Inhale and lift-up from the core of your pelvis through the crown of your head.
- Walk your left hand forward on the inside of your left foot. Fully extend your arm until your armpit touches your left shin. Press the inner edge of your left leg down and bring your thigh to your torso. Extend through the wedge of your right foot and lower your thigh-bone into the floor.
- Internally rotate your left arm and bend the elbow. Wrap your left hand around the outside of your left foot. Bring your right hand around your back and clasp your right hand with your left. Inhale, lengthen the sides of your body, and draw your shoulder blades higher to your back. Exhale and twist the torso to the right. Press the inner part of your left foot down to keep both sit bones embedded in the floor. Lower your right leg firmly.
- Inhale and extend from your pelvis to the top of your head. Exhale and bend your right leg forward. Stay in this posture for 30 to 60 seconds. Release and repeat on the other side.
Modifying Marichyasana I (Seated Spinal Twist I)
Place a folded blanket under your hip and then twist and forward for Marichyasana I. The raised level of the hip helps to increase the flexibility of the back and hamstrings. It also helps to soften the waist and eases the rotation from the buttocks to the twist.
After bending the left leg from Dandasana, hold the yoga strap or belt in the left hand. Wrap the left hand around the shin from the inside of the left leg, reaching up to the back. Pull the right-hand back and grasp the other end of the strap at the back.
Step-by-step Anatomy Engaging Techniques
- Extend your straight-leg knee by activating your quadriceps, and contract your peroneus longus and brevis muscles so that your foot turns out slightly at the ankle and open the sole.
- Engage your tensor fascia lata. This helps your quadriceps to extend your knee and helps to flex your hip.
- Your tensor fascia lata also contributes to the important function of internally rotating the hip and femur of your straight leg. Keep in mind that your gluteus maximus is stretched here as you are leaning forward. This creates a pull on your femur towards the external rotation, causing your kneecaps to turn outward.
- Your tensor fascia lata counteracts this, bringing your kneecap back to neutral.
- While contracting your abdominals, draw your trunk forward. Both psoas muscles contribute to this action by flexing your hips. A cue to engage your straight leg is to try to lift your leg off the floor; On the side of the bent leg, squeeze your trunk against the leg. These movements tilt your pelvis forward and increase the stretch of the straight leg hamstrings.
- Activate the mula bandha to draw your coccyx forward and nutate your sacrum. This creates a counterbalance for the flexing trunk and stabilizes your pelvis.
- Contract your hamstrings to bend your knee. Remember that your inner side hamstrings (your semimembranosus and semitendinosis) also internally rotate your tibia.
- Press the ball of your foot into the floor and slowly rotate your foot inward to engage these muscles. Note that when your lower leg is flexing against the upper, the two halves of your foot can be considered a single unit, such as a log. This means internally rotating the tibia of your bent leg while externally rotating your hip.
- Synergize it by tucking your tailbone down to engage the deep external rotator. This culminates in rolling the bent leg of your lower body away from the rotation of your upper body.
- Both shoulders rotate internally, although your shoulder closer to your bent knee rotates inward slightly more to turn your upper body toward your straight leg.
- Get a feel for the muscles that perform this action before actually doing the pose. The cue for this is to place your arm behind the back at lumbar level, and then lift it off.
- Use your other hand to feel how it activates the lower part of your pectoralis major and deltoids.
- Your latissimus dorsi, teres major and subscapularis muscles work synergistically to internally rotate your shoulder.
- To finish the pose, try straightening your arms by contracting your triceps and engaging your lower third trapezius to draw your shoulders away from the neck. It moves your body forward.
- Use the back of your deltoids to lift your arms away from the back.
Precautions and Contraindications
Marichyasana I (Seated Spinal Twist I or Sage Twist Pose), is considered an intermediate level pose because it requires some flexibility in the hips and lower back. Therefore, it becomes necessary to perform this yoga pose with caution, as there is pressure on the lower abdomen and shoulders.
High blood pressure
Forward bending requires the right type of breathing that is slow and deep and so with the individual suffering from high blood pressure, breathing can get out of control, putting more pressure on the heart with compression in this posture. Hence, it is best to avoid suffering from high blood pressure unless it is done under the guidance of an expert.
Although this yoga pose massages the lower abdomen, and improves the functioning of the reproductive system, it is still best to avoid it during menstruation, as a lot of pressure will be felt in the pelvic region, leading to irritation and heavy bleeding.
Breathing problems related to asthma or any other type of allergy
The forward fold can make breathing difficult if one has not understood the need for spontaneous breathing. This can be uncomfortable for anyone suffering from asthma or any other type of breathing problem. Therefore, it becomes essential to learn to breathe properly in this yoga pose to enjoy the benefits of this yoga pose, even if you have asthma.
Knee, hip and wrist injury
Pressing the knee in toward the chest, and balancing the body at the hips and interlocking the wrist at the back of any type of injury at the locations mentioned above, makes it difficult to play it safe and avoid this yoga pose.
The pressure on the head and neck causes the blood to flow suddenly, and therefore a migraine sufferer may find it difficult to maintain a long tightness around the neck and head, causing discomfort.