Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist Pose): Steps, Benefits, And Contraindications

Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist Pose) - SharpMuscle
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The Supta Matsyendrasana, also known as Supine Spinal Twist Pose, stretches the psoas, glute, and abdominal muscles, while strengthening and lengthening the entire back and the spine.


Known as:Supta Matsyendrasana, Supine Spinal Twist Pose, Reclined Twist Pose, Belly Twist, Jathara Parivrtti, Reclining Matsyendra’s Pose
Sanskrit name:सुप्त मत्स्येन्द्रासन
IAST:Supta Matsyendrāsana
Pronunciation:soo-puh-tuh muts-yen-drah uh-suh-nuh
Type:Heart opener, reclining, supine, twisting, restorative, relaxation
Focus:Spinal, core
Total time:30 seconds to 1 minute or slightly longer
Chakra:Manipura (solar plexus) chakra
Indications:Gluteus, hamstrings, hips, knees, neck, spine, flexibility and mobility, abdominal organs, digestive function, relaxation, stress, abdominal, core stability, energy, vitality, rejuvenation, menstruation, back pain, nervous system
Counterposes:Balasana (Child’s Pose), Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), Uttanasana (Forward Fold Pose), Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Preparatory poses:Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana), Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), Marjaryasana-Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Pose), Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
Follow-up poses:Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose), Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose), Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Contraindications:Recent or ongoing injury of the knees, hips, or back


Supta Matsyendrasana

The “Supta Matsyendrasana” is a Sanskrit term that comes from the three Sanskrit words — Supta + Matsyendra + Asana:

  1. Supta” = “supine” or “reclining” or “lying down”
  2. Matsyendra” = “lord of the fish” or “the name of a legendary yogi and sage in Hindu mythology”
  3. Asana” = “pose” or “posture”

Therefore, Supta Matsyendrasana can be translated as Reclining Matsyendra’s Pose or Reclining Twist Pose in English. The name signifies the reclined position of the body while performing a twist, inspired by the teachings and influence of Matsyendra.

Benefits of Supine Spinal Twist Pose

Supta Matsyendrasana offers a range of physical, mental and emotional benefits which are listed below:

Physical Benefits:

  • Stretches the psoas, gluteus, hamstrings, hips, knees, neck, and abdominal muscles
  • Stretches and opens the chest, shoulders, hips, and back muscles
  • Strengthens and lengthens the entire back and the spine
  • Strengthen the abdominal muscles and improve core stability
  • Reduces fat around the hips and waist
  • Improve flexibility and mobility in the spine
  • Aid digestion by stimulating the abdominal organs
  • Improves the digestive function
  • Release tension in the chest, shoulders, hips, and back muscles
  • Improve flexibility in the chest, shoulders, hips, and back muscles
  • Stimulate blood flow and energy circulation in the body
  • Improves the thoracic blood circulation and the wellness of the nervous system
  • Enhance oxygenation of tissues
  • Reduce the back pain
  • Relieve menstrual discomfort
  • Improves posture
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Mental and Emotional Benefits:

  • Promote relaxation
  • Relieves the stress
  • Mind-body connection
  • Calm the mind
  • Energizing, sense of vitality and balance
  • Mindfulness and presence

Supta Matsyendrasana Practice Guide

In order to prepare your muscles for deep twisting poses, it is important to warm them up. One pose you can try to warm up your back muscles before engaging in twisting poses is the Supine Spinal Twist Pose. This yoga asana helps to lengthen and strengthen the spine, while also providing a cleansing effect on the internal organs. It offers a soothing stretch to the shoulders, back, legs, and neck.

To practice this yoga asana, begin by lying on your back and initiate the twist from the lower body. As you twist, gently press the opposing hand against the bent leg, allowing the knee to rest on the outer part of the supporting leg.

The Supta Matsyendrasana is typically practiced towards the end of a yoga session, providing a counterbalance to prolonged sitting and hunching postures, thereby promoting better posture in daily life. It offers a calming and relaxing posture that brings balance to the body and mind.

Step-by-step Instruction

  1. Start by lying on your back in Reclined Mountain Pose, with your knees bent and feet close to your hips. Press your feet into the floor and raise your hips off the ground. Then, shift your hips slightly to the left to maintain neutral alignment during the twist.
  2. Straighten your right leg in front of you and flex your foot, pulling the toes toward you. Next, bring your left knee toward your chest.
  3. As you exhale, cross your left knee over your torso to the right side. Your hips should be stacked at this point. You can keep the left leg at a 90-degree angle or slightly lower it and place the left foot under the right knee.
  4. Extend your left arm out to the side, aligning it with your shoulders. You can also extend your right arm to the side or rest it gently on your left thigh for additional support (avoid applying excessive pressure to the knee).
  5. Keep your head in a neutral position, or turn your gaze to the left for a deeper expression of the pose. If twisting your head causes discomfort in your neck, bring your head back to the center.
  6. Hold the pose for five to 10 breaths. If you’re practicing a restorative variation, you can place a bolster beneath the twisted leg and hold the pose for a bit longer.
  7. When you’re ready to release the pose, return to Corpse Pose (Savasana). Stay in this neutral position for a couple of deep breaths before moving to the other side.


If you’re new to the Supine Spinal Twist Pose, consider these modifications, it is particularly helpful for beginners who may have limited flexibility or are still developing their practice. Remember to listen to your body, make any necessary modifications, and keep performing progressively as you get more comfortable and confident in the pose.

  1. If you experience stiffness or discomfort in your neck, it’s okay to avoid turning your head sideways. You can provide extra support to your neck by using a folded blanket or towel as cushioning.
  2. Avoid forcing your knee to touch the ground completely. Instead, only move your knee as far as feels comfortable for you.
  3. If you’re unable to fully drop your bent knee to the ground, you can use a yoga block or cushion to provide support and help maintain a comfortable position.
  4. Placing a folded blanket under your buttocks will provide additional padding, making the pose more comfortable for you.
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Common Mistakes

Watch out the following common mistakes and their potential consequences, so you can take the necessary precautions to avoid them. Practicing with mindfulness, proper alignment, and patience will help you experience the full benefits of Supta Matsyendrasana safely and effectively. If needed, seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor for individualized corrections and modifications.

  • Straining or forcing the twist: Trying to force the twist beyond your current range of motion can lead to strain or injury in the spine, hips, or knees. Twisting should be done gradually and mindfully, respecting your body’s limits. Pushing beyond your comfortable range can disrupt the natural alignment of the spine and compromise the stability of the pose.
  • Neglecting proper alignment: Failing to maintain proper alignment can reduce the effectiveness of the pose and potentially lead to discomfort or strain. Alignment errors, such as the shoulders lifting off the floor or the hips not staying stacked, can put unnecessary stress on the joints and limit the benefits of the twist. It is crucial to align the spine, hips, and shoulders, ensuring they remain stable and supported throughout the pose.
  • Holding tension in the neck or jaw: Allowing tension to accumulate in the neck or jaw can interfere with the relaxation and release intended in the pose. It is important to keep the neck relaxed and avoid clenching the jaw. Release any unnecessary tension and focus on maintaining a calm and peaceful state during the practice.
  • Neglecting the breath: The breath is a vital component of yoga practice, including “Supta Matsyendrasana.” Neglecting the breath or holding the breath can inhibit the flow of energy and restrict the release of tension in the body. Remember to breathe deeply and rhythmically throughout the pose, allowing the breath to guide your movements and enhance the benefits of the practice.
  • Overexertion or lack of patience: Rushing into the pose without proper preparation or pushing too hard to achieve a deeper twist can lead to strain or injury. It is essential to approach the pose with patience and listen to your body’s signals. Progress gradually and respect your current level of flexibility. Consistent practice over time will yield better results than forcing or rushing through the pose.

Modifications and Variations

Modifications and variations in Supta Matsyendrasana can be beneficial for practitioners with different levels of flexibility, limitations, or specific needs. It allows practitioners to adapt the pose to their unique body requirements and limitations. They provide a way to experience the benefits of Reclined Twist Pose while ensuring safety and comfort.

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However, the modifications and variations of this yoga asana are explained below:

  1. Using props: Props such as blankets, bolsters, or blocks can provide support and make the pose more accessible. For example, placing a bolster under the bent knee or using a block under the shoulder can help maintain proper alignment and reduce strain on the body. Props can be especially useful for individuals with limited flexibility or those recovering from injuries.
  2. Knee angle variation: Instead of keeping the top leg at a 90-degree angle, you can modify the knee angle to a more comfortable position. Lowering the top leg slightly or placing the foot under the bottom leg can reduce strain on the hips and make the twist more accessible for those with tightness or discomfort.
  3. Arm placement: Experimenting with different arm placements can modify the intensity and focus of the pose. You can extend the top arm out to the side in line with the shoulder for a wider twist, or place it on the thigh for added support and stability. Find an arm position that allows you to maintain proper alignment and feel a comfortable stretch in the torso.
  4. Restorative variation: For individuals looking for a more gentle and restorative experience, using additional props such as bolsters or blankets can provide extra support and relaxation. Placing a bolster beneath the twisting leg can create a more supported and soothing variation of the pose, allowing for a longer hold and deeper relaxation.
  5. Seated modification: If lying down is uncomfortable or not accessible, you can modify the pose to a seated variation. Sit with both legs extended in front of you, cross one leg over the other, and twist towards the crossed leg. This seated twist provides a similar spinal rotation and offers the benefits of the pose while accommodating different needs and preferences.
  6. Leg wrapping: Begin by lying on your back in the Reclined Mountain Pose. Instead of bending both knees and bringing them close to your hips, cross one leg over the other, just like in Eagle Pose (Garudasana). The top leg will wrap around the bottom leg, with the foot either resting on the floor or hooked behind the calf.
  7. Opposite direction twist: After crossing the legs, proceed to twist in the opposite direction. For example, if your legs are wrapped with the right leg on top, twist your torso towards the left side. This creates a counter-twist, as compared to the traditional Supta Matsyendrasana where the legs and torso twist in the same direction.

Precautions and Contraindications

Precautions and contraindications are important to consider in order to practice “Supta Matsyendrasana” safely, which are explaining below:

  1. Forcing the knee to touch the floor: Forcing the knee to touch the floor in a deep twist can place excessive strain on the knee joint and surrounding structures. This can lead to discomfort, pain, or potential injury. It is essential to respect your body’s limitations and avoid forcing any movements. Instead, focus on maintaining proper alignment and gradually work towards increasing the depth of the twist over time.
  2. Shoulders lifting off the floor: Lifting the shoulders off the floor can compromise the stability and alignment of the spine. It may indicate that you are attempting to twist too deeply or lacking the necessary flexibility. It is essential to keep the shoulders grounded throughout the pose, maintaining stability in the upper body and allowing the twist to primarily occur in the lower back and hips. Use props such as blankets or blocks under the shoulders if needed to support proper alignment.
  3. Recent or ongoing knee, hip, or back injury: Individual with a recent or ongoing injury either your knees, hips, or back, proceed with caution and check with a healthcare practitioner or a competent yoga teacher/instructor before performing Reclined Twist Pose. The pose involves a twisting motion that puts pressure on these areas, and it may exacerbate existing injuries or conditions. It is crucial to prioritize your safety and modify the pose or avoid it altogether if advised by a healthcare professional.

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