From Sanskrit, Marichyasana can be roughly translated as “the pose dedicated to Sage Marichi”. There are several incarnations of Marichyasana, and Marichi’s Pose III is a wonderful spinal twist performed from a seated position. It can be adapted to accommodate beginner practice or enhanced with a bind for a more intense variation.
“This pose has an interesting psychological effect on me,” says Yoga Answered contributor Cat Harvey. “Every time I practice Marichyasana 3, I feel so invigorated and full of energy, it leaves me feeling as if I’ve aged backwards.”
Marichyasana 3 Pose Quick Look
Sanskrit Name: Marichyasana III
Pose Type: Hip-Opening Yoga Poses, Seated Yoga Poses, Twist Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose, Intermediate pose
Targets: Spine, shoulders, seat, hamstrings, sciatic nerve.
Benefits: Marichyasana 3 is a great way to improve flexibility in your spine. Not only does it work towards a deeper twist in your thoracic spine, but it also helps you strengthen back muscles supporting the spinal column. The requirement to sit upright conditions the hip flexors to actively engage while simultaneously stretching hamstrings, calves, and ligaments around the heel. Additionally, the twist applies pressure to the abdominal area, improving blood circulation to your internal organs, therefore stimulating better function of the digestive system.
Preparatory Poses: Staff Pose, Half-Lord of Fishes, Supine Twist
How to Do Marichyasana 3 Pose Step-By-Step
- Start seated in Staff Pose. Press your palms either side of your hips and engage your ankles. Lengthen upwards through the crown of your head.
- Bend your right leg and step your right foot close to your seat. Leave a small gap between your big toe and inner left thigh, positioning your right foot in line with your right sit bone.
- Keeping your back straight, reach forward slightly and hook your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Rest your right hand behind you for support.
- At this point, begin twisting your chest and shoulders to your right, pushing the elbow against the knee for leverage. Don’t let your spine relax.
- Once you’ve reached the maximum range in your twist, stay here for 3-5 breaths then return to Staff Pose. Repeat Marichyasana 3 on the other side.
Keep your elbow hooked to the bent knee, with the other arm on the floor for support. To condition the body to stay upright without such support, try extending the back arm up, forcing your back muscles to work harder. A great pose to increase the movement range in your shoulders is Cow Face Pose.