Shava Udarakarshanasana (universal spinal twist)
Lie flat on the back with the legs and feet together.
Stretch the arms out to the sides at shoulder level with the palms of the hands facing down.
Bend the right leg and place the sole of the foot beside the left kneecap. Place the left hand on top of the right knee.
This is the starting position.
Gently bring the right knee down to the floor on the left side of the body, keeping the leg bent and the foot in contact with the left knee.
Turn the head to the right, looking along the straight arm, and gaze at the middle finger of the right hand.
The left hand should be on the right knee and the right arm and shoulder should remain in contact with the floor.
In the final position, the head should be turned in the opposite direction to the folded knee and the other leg should be completely straight.
Hold the position for as long as is comfortable.
Return to the starting position, bringing the head and knee to the centre. Stretch the right arm out to the side and straighten the right leg.
Repeat on the opposite side.
Practice once to each side, gradually extending the holding time.
Inhale in the starting position.
Exhale while pushing the knee to the floor and turning the head.
Breathe deeply and slowly in the final position.
Inhale while centring the body and exhale while straightening the leg.
Awareness: Physical – on the breath or the relaxation of the back.
Spiritual – on manipura chakra.
Sequence: This asana should be performed after forward and backward bending asanas or those that are strenuous on the lower back, and after sitting in chairs or in meditation asanas for extended periods of time.
Contra-indications: This asana rectifies disorders of the hip joint. It should be stopped if the practice is painful.
Benefits: Tightness and tiredness are relieved, especially in the lower back. The pelvic and abdominal organs are toned through its massaging action.