Markatasana (Monkey Spinal Twist): Steps, Benefits & Precautions

markatasana (monkey spinal twist pose)
Image Source: Canva

Markatasana is a basic level of posture for maintaining spinal health. It is performed lying down in the supine position.

To enter the pose, lie down on your back with feet planted firmly near the hips. Spread your arms to the sides parallel to the shoulders with palms facing up. It is followed by lowering the stacked knees to the side and twisting the neck and head to the alternate side.

It focuses on stretching the neck, abdomen, and back muscles. The asana is performed in three different ways, check out its variation mentioned below in the text.

Markatasana Meaning

Markatasana is a composite term having two Sanskrit words, “markata” meaning “monkey” and “asana” refers to “pose”.

It is also known by its English name, spinal twist pose. Holding markatasana involves twisting the spinal muscles sideways, hence the name.

Markatasana is described as a Hatha yoga practice in Haṭha ratnavali in the 17th century.

Keeping the history, origin, and benefits in mind, markatasana is a yogic practice that is worth trying.

Markatasana Practice Guide

markatasana practice guide
Image Source: Canva

Precautions & Contraindications

  • People suffering from chronic back pain must not try full markatasasna.
  • Avoid this posture in case of a slipped disc or hernia.
  • Do not try it, if you have pain in the legs or joints.

How to Do Markatasana (Steps)

  1. Lie on your back and spread your arms to the sides with palms facing up.
  2. Exhale bending your knees and placing your feet closer to your hips.
  3. Inhale and then exhale dropping your bent legs to the right.
  4. In this position, the outer right knee and ankle lie on the floor. However, the left knee and ankle are resting on the right knee and ankle respectively.
  5. Simultaneously, twist your head and neck towards the left.
  6. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds with normal breathing.
  7. Inhale bring your head back to the center and legs to the initial position.
  8. Repeat the same procedure twisting the legs to the left and neck to the right.

Variations

There are three variations for markatasana. The first one has been already mentioned above, it is followed by the following two methods.

Variation 1

markatasana variation 1
Image Source: Canva
  1. Lie on your back with open arms to the sides up to shoulder level.
  2. Bend your knees to fold the legs.
  3. Drop the right leg to the right with a bent knee.
  4. Now, lower the left leg so that the left knee lies beside the right ankle.
  5. Then, twist the neck turning your head to the left.
  6. Hold for a few seconds and come back to the center.
  7. Repeat the pose to the alternate side.

Variation 2

markatasana variation 2
Image Source: Canva
  1. Lie down in the supine pose opening the arms to the sides.
  2. Raise your right leg and twisting the right hip to bring your right foot close to the left hand.
  3. Hold your right big toe with the left hand.
  4. Simultaneously, twist your neck and head towards the left.
  5. Hold for a few seconds then release the right leg and neck back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat it to the opposite side raising the left leg.

Therapeutic Applications

Markatasana Benefits

1. Promotes spinal flexibility

Back muscles are stretched and twisted holding this pose. It expands the back muscles and enhances their elasticity. Besides improving the spinal flexibility it strengthens the back muscles.

3. Tones the abdomen

Markatasana is a beneficial pose for the abdominal muscles. It stretches and squeezes the internal organs like the stomach, liver, spleen, etc. Therefore, aids in better digestion.

3. Stimulates the respiratory organs

This simple twisting posture emphasizes on internal organs providing several benefits. The twisting and stretching exercise the lungs and ribs, improving the breathing capacity.

4. Calms the mind

Markatasana is a relaxing asana that soothes the nervous system. It rejuvenates the body as well as the mind, thereby improving memory retention.

5. Boosts creativity

This pose is beneficial in stimulating the sacral (Svadhisthana) chakra due to the lower abdominal twisting. This energy chakra helps in enhancing the creativity of the practitioner.

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