Bharadvajasana is an intermediate to advanced level yoga pose. We have divided the practice into a few easy-to-follow steps so that beginners can also get started with their practice.
Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Bharadvajasana
Start your Bharadvaja's twist pose practice with the following warm-up dynamic and static stretching poses:
1. Seated Windshield Wipers (Dynamic Stretch) - Get into a seated position, keep your legs shoulder width apart, bend your legs, and place both feet on the ground. Place your hands on the mat behind your glutes and start to sway your bent legs from side to side.
Make sure your knees touch the ground as you sway your legs to each side. Perform this motion for 1 to 5 minutes and feel your glutes, hip-flexors, knees, low back, shoulders, and obliques activating.
2. Mermaid Side Stretch Pose: If you have tight obliques and a weak spine, try the Mermaid side stretch pose as a warmup before Bharadvajasana to maximize flexibility in your side body and your spine.
Start by sitting on your mat with both legs folded onto your right side so that your left foot is against your right hip and your right foot is positioned behind you. Keep your spine lengthened and upright.
Take a deep breath, engage your core and extend your right arm above your head.
Now, in the same position, slowly bend your torso to the side and allow your side body to become more flexible. Hold this pose on each side for 2 to 3 minutes for complete torso activation.
Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Bharadvajasana
The following are steps for practicing the Bharadvajasana twist pose:
Step 1- Start from Dandasana, also known as Staff position.
Step 2- Fold your left knee and keep it in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose).
Step 3- Bend your right leg from the knee and keep it folded onto your left thigh.
Step 4- Take a deep breath, slowly twist your spine, and place your left palm below your right knee.
Step 5- Focus on your breathing, twist even more, and mindfully wrap your right arm from behind so that you can hold your right big toe.
Step 6- Bring your shoulder and neck sideways entirely, and align your gaze over your right shoulder.
Step 7- Hold and breathe in this position for a few seconds or minutes.
Step 8- Finally, exhale and gently release the pose by returning to starting position.
Step 9- Relax for a few seconds and repeat the same on the other side.
Inhale - While you stretch your spine sideways in the twisting motion.
Exhale - When you’re ready to release the pose.
Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold Bharadvaja pose for 30 to 60 seconds on each side.
Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold Bharadvaja pose for 60 to 90 seconds on each side.
Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind
In order to attain maximum benefits from your Bharadvaja practice, make sure you're aware of the following posture cues:
Knees wider than your glutes: Splaying your knees too wide from each other can make it harder to reach your foot over your alternate leg's thigh. So, make sure your knees are not too wide or too close. The distance between both bent knees should be only hip-width apart.
Torso not twisting properly: Some practitioners make this mistake of only turning their neck and gazing behind their back. As a result, they unnecessarily strain their neck muscles and miss out on a deeper stretch. The ultimate goal here is to twist your entire torso, including your neck, shoulders, spine, back, arms, and obliques so that your entire upper body becomes more flexible and mobile.
Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Bharadvajasana
After your twist pose practice relax your muscles with a counter-pose practice. This will assist you in soothing your spine, shoulders, neck, knees, and glutes.
1. Deer Pose - This is a beginner-friendly Yin Yoga move that helps to relax your pelvis and side torso simultaneously. Start from Bound Angle pose and flip one of your legs behind your body, keeping both knees bent.
Now, gently bend your torso forward, place your arms on the ground and rest your upper body on the floor. If you cannot reach the ground, add a bolster pillow and relax your upper body on the bolster.
Hold this pose on each side for 3 to 5 minutes, and let your muscles unwind deeply from within.
2. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) - From Seated Bound Angle pose, lie flat on your back and bring your legs into Namaste formation. Move your shoulders down and away from your ears, close your eyes, and focus on your breath.
Stay in this pose for 1 to 5 minutes while exercising conscious breath control. Slowly, return to the starting position where you’ll feel a decline in overall muscle tension.