Time to twist

VAKRASANA It improves flexibility of the spine

VAKRASANA It improves flexibility of the spine  

Vakrasana corrects imbalances in the vertebral column

‘Vakra’ means ‘twist.’ The asana depicted is a simple twist and we will look at a variation of the classical posture. This offers the body a chance to grow into the twist rather than force it into a new way of being. Now why would one want to force? “Because the guy next to me can twist more.” We will have to let our competitive side rest a bit. When one forces a twist, one gets the alignment wrong. Though the posture itself means twist, we will see that there is a grace developed in the action.

The vakrasana is excellent for the back muscles and gives a good massage to the liver and spleen. It is excellent for correcting imbalances along the vertebral column. Vakra can have both negative and positive connotations. It is mostly used in the context of a twisted or devious mind. However, the positive aspect is that the body and mind are twisted to see things from another perspective or point of view. It can indicate a flexibility and dexterity like the trunk of Ganesha. His trunk is described as twisted or curved. By practising the vakrasana, the spine becomes flexible and agile. The asana helps one become adaptable and innovative. This flexibility of spine is translated as flexible out-of-the-box thinking.

In our scriptures, the Vedic scholar Kahola is said to have been corrected by his son while he was still in the womb. His ego was hurt and he cursed his son that he should be born with deformities in eight places. The baby was born with eight deformities and was called ashtavakra or the one twisted at eight points. Though deformed, the boy was very wise. The twist in one’s body need not relate to one’s wisdom as seen in the previous case. However, it can bring about a forthrightness that is characteristic of ashtavakra. Though it is good to sugar coat certain truths, ashtavakra was quite direct in his opinions. Misalignments or twists in the vertebral column due to stress can bring about this personality trait of being blunt. By releasing the muscular tension that can aggravate the misalignment we can also soften the way we react to situations. The lesser the tension the less invaded or afraid we feel. Thereby the less caustic we get.

The technique: Sit with feet stretched out and back erect. Bend the left knee. Bring your left hand on the inside of the left thigh and hold onto the left ankle.

Stretch up and twist gently to the right side, placing the right hand on the ground. Stay in this position for as long as is comfortable. Release. Repeat on the opposite side.

Take care to see that the hand that is placed on the ground is as close to the body as possible. Use this hand to straighten the back rather than lean on it.

The aim here is to be aware, graceful and straight when you twist. If you are looking convoluted and uncomfortable, then lighten your practice. You can just breathe normally or breathe deeply into the stiff parts to allow the body to open up.


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