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Seated Half Spinal Twist (ardha matsyendrasana)

Seated posture that increases the flexibility of your spine.
 

Seated Half Spinal Twist (or ardha matsyendrasana) is a stimulating pose that helps to increase the flexibility of your spine. You can also use this pose to relieve headaches or stiffness in your neck and shoulders. Performing this pose also massages your abdominal organs, which helps to improve digestion.
 
As you perform Seated Half Spinal Twist, make sure you keep your hips even and your sitting bones in contact with the floor throughout the pose. Do not allow the twist in this pose to come from your hips.
 
Instead, you should feel the twist move from the base of your spine up to your neck. Make sure you do not strain your neck trying to look over your shoulder.
 
If your hips are stiff, you can perform Seated Half Spinal Twist sitting on a folded blanket. This modification supports your pelvis and hips, allowing you to focus on the twist in your spine rather than the position of your hips.
 
Use caution performing this pose if you have a knee, hip, back or shoulder injury.
 
Steps:
Begin in Staff Pose.
Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the floor outside your left thigh as close to your hip as is comfortable for you.
(Your knee should point toward the ceiling.)
Press your sitting bones into the floor and point the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
Place your right hand on the floor behind you, close to your body. Your fingers should point behind you.
Wrap your left arm around your right knee and then hug your thigh to your torso.
Exhale and turn your body to the right.
Turn your head to look over your right shoulder.
(If you feel strain in your neck, bring your head back to a neutral position.)
Press your sitting bones into the floor and point the crown of your head toward the ceiling.
(Make sure your chest is lifted and your shoulders are relaxed and parallel to the floor.)
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Repeat steps 1 to 9 for your other side.
 
How can I make Seated Half Spinal Twist more challenging for my upper body?
If you are comfortable performing this pose, you can further challenge your upper body by clasping your ankle. Perform steps 1 to 4 above and then move your left elbow to the outside of your right leg. Press your elbow against your thigh to turn your body further to the right. Then clasp your right ankle with your left hand.
 
How can I make Seated Half Spinal Twist more challenging for my lower body?
If you are comfortable performing this pose, you can further challenge your lower body by bending both knees. Perform steps 1 and 2 above and then bend your left knee and bring your left foot as close to your right hip as possible. Make sure you keep both of your sitting bones on the floor as you perform this modification.
 
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