What is Vakrasana?
Vakrasana, known as the easy spinal twist, falls under the category of twisting asanas. It works on making the spine flexible, removes excess fat from the waist and is an easy-to-do beginner asana before attempting challenging twists such as Ardha Matysendrasana (Half-lord of the Fishes Pose). In Vakrasana, the upper body or trunk twists to either side. One must practice the asana on both sides for a balanced effect.
Position type: Seated
Posture type: Twist
Ideal for: Flexibility
Targets: Back and abdomen
Pose level: Beginner
How to prepare for Vakrasana?
As a beginner-level posture, Vakrasana is often practiced before doing intermediate poses. However, before doing Vakrasana, you can practice basic warm-ups and stretches to release any tightness. Simple side bends from a seated Sukhasana (Easy pose) position and twisting to back while sitting or standing will also help. Practice a few rounds of Surya Namaskar too, to stretch and loosen up the body. You can also work on lower back flexibility with asanas such as the cobra pose, locust pose, camel pose and bow pose. With better flexibility, you can go deeper into the posture.
Good core strength is always necessary to practice an asana with better alignment and to hold for longer. Asanas such as the triangle pose, warrior poses, chair pose, boat pose, plank and plank pose variations help build better core strength.
How to do Vakrasana
Getting into the posture
- Start by sitting in Dandasana or the staff pose. Sit with both legs together and arms by the side of thighs. The upper body should be straight and at a 90 degree angle with the lower body.
- Now, fold the right leg and place the ankle by the opposite knee with the knee pointing upwards.
- Place the right hand behind the body, near the buttocks.
- The left elbow should be by the outer side of the right leg. Fold the left arm and press the elbow against the right side of the thigh.
- Twist the spine from the base of the lower abdomen.
- Look towards the right side. Your shoulder should remain open and your chest should not bend forward.
- Stay here for a few deep breaths.
Getting out of the posture
- Release the pose by coming out in the reverse way - release the arms and the twist slowly coming back to a neutral position. Relax here for a few minutes.
- Now repeat the same with the other side.
Key alignments in Vakrasana
The shoulders and chest should remain open. Care should be taken to ensure the shoulders are in one line and not falling forward. This way the chest also remains open. The twist should come from the base of the lower abdomen and lower back, not from the upper part.
What are the benefits of Vakrasana?
A simpler version of the Half-lord of the Fishes pose, Vakrasana improves spinal flexibility, improving blood circulation and oxygen to the spinal nerves. The back muscles get stronger and one will experience relief from mild back pain. The core and abdominal muscles also get massaged, become stronger and better. Vakrasana also helps reduce belly fat, loosens up the hip joints and relieves stiffness.
What are the contraindications of Vakrasana?
Anyone suffering from lumbar spondylitis and hernia should avoid the posture. Anyone with cervical spondylitis should do the asana without putting pressure on the neck. Those with slip disc and other spinal injuries should also avoid the asana.
Counter poses of Vakrasana
Always do the asana on both sides. After completing both sides, gently bend to either side to ensure balance in the body. Practice seated forward bend for a counter movement to the back or child’s pose for a few minutes.
Variations of Vakrasana
- Initially, if you cannot place the left elbow on the outer side of the right leg, simply place the left elbow on the right knee and twist as much as possible.
- For a more advanced version, you can practice Ardha Matysendrasana or Half-lord of the Fishes pose.
Advice for beginners
Avoid curving the spine. The spine must remain straight during the twist. Also avoid letting the shoulder fall forward. The chest should remain open. Twist only as much as you can, and with practice, you can increase the twist.
Shvasa tips for Vakrasana
- If placing the hand on the outer part of the other thigh is difficult, don’t worry. Start by placing the hand on the knee. Gradually, you can deepen the twist. You can even place the hand on the ground to start with.
- With every exhalation try to twist a little bit more.
- Be gentle, avoid jerks or hasty movements.