Supine Spinal Twist translated in Sanskrit is Supta Matsyendrasana is pronounced; SOOP-tah MAHT-see-en-DRAHS-uh-nuh.
It’s named after a siddhi, a yogi master called Matsyendra. Supta = reclined and Matseyendra = lord of the fishes, Reclined Lord of the Fishes Pose.
It’s a supine twist, a version of the seated twist, Half Lord of The Fishes Pose | Ardha Matsyendrasana on your back.
It’s an all levels gentle twist commonly practiced in Hatha and Restorative Yoga.
This pose is typically practiced at the beginning or end of class as it’s very inviting. You don’t necessarily need to prepare the body for it as it’s very mild.
Post pose can be followed up with Sun Salutations if it’s at the beginning of your practice or Shavasana if it falls towards the end.
Supine Spinal Twist Benefits & Precautions
- Stretches the back, hips, chest and shoulders.
- Lengthens the spine and energizes the body.
- Massages the disks of the spine.
- Encourages fresh blood flow to the digestive organs and improves digestion.
Please exercise precaution or refrain if you are experiencing back pain, hip or knee injury or degenerative disk disease.
Supine Spinal Twist Instructions
- Begin on your back in Supine Tadasana.
- Bend your right knee, wrap your interlaced hands around your shin and draw the knee towards your chest. Keep your left leg straight and active.
- On exhale, take your bent right knee and draw it across the body towards the left side of your mat.
- Scooch your left hip back a few inches so you’re twisting around the centerline of your spine and not at an angle.
- Stack right hip on top of left (never forward) so your sacrum is vertical, this may require a block at medium height underneath your right thigh.
- Extend your right arm open to the right, keep at shoulder height with palm facing up.
- Your head can also turn to the right and passively hang heavy.
- Your welcome to close your eyes as this pose is traditionally performed near the end of class on the way to Savasana | Corpse Pose.
- Allow the alchemy between the pose, breath and gravity to shape your experience.
- Stay for at least 10 breath cycles up to five minutes (restorative approach).
- When complete, inhale return to center, recenter your hips and draw both knees into your chest. Repeat on the left side.
Supine Spinal Twist - Modification Variations & Alignment
Modification- If this feels too intense in any way you can perform this with your legs together as if they were one, both knees bent and stacked and then rotate.
Variation- Twine the legs before you twist so they resemble Eagle Pose in the lower body.
Common Misalignment #1- This ones for the bendies, to over twist and exploit mobility. If your top hip crosses past your bottom leaving your sacrum at an angle instead of perfectly vertical.
FIX #1– Rest your top knee on a bolster or a block, this keeps your sacrum vertical and hips stacked.
Common Misalignment #2- Twisting on an angle. This occurs when you don’t center your hips before or after rotation.
FIX #2- Imagine you have a line down the centerline of our mat. Right knee come in to your chest and twists across the centerline of your body. Once this happens you can lift your left hip and scootch it back to the center of your mat so your now twisting along the access of your spine instead of twisting at an angle which is more of a hip swivel than spinal rotation.
Supine spinal twist is a restorative, therapeutic twist that naturally decompresses the spine and rinses out the undigested emotional stuff of the day.
Supta Matsyendrasana improves posture, relieves chronic back pain and also massages the abdominal organs which releases toxins and purifies the digestive system.
I like to place this towards the end of an all levels class as it is a perfect transition from the outward Yang part of class to the more interior Yin aspect. You can also perform it at the beginning of class as an invitation to awakening your spine.
I personally like to practice it as a pose unto itself before I go to sleep in the evening. I find it helps me clear any residual tension, suffering or holding on.
Final TIP- You also have the option of practicing this on a chair. Simply sit with both legs facing the one side of the chair and rotate towards the back of the chair, you can use your arms to leverage the twist.
Keep in mind, if you are working with back pain or degenerative disk disease challenges, please refrain as it may cause further suffering.