HOW TO PRACTICE Sage's Pose IN YOGA (Marichyasana III)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Sage’s Pose
This yoga pose, Sage’s Pose (Sanskrit name: Marichyasana III), is dedicated to the Sage Marichi, who was one of the Rishis or “seers” of the Vedas. Marichi translates literally as “ray of light.” He is said to be the son of Brahma, and the great-grandfather of Manu, the Vedic Adam, or father of mankind.
Although we often focus on remaining grounded and centered in our yoga practice, strength and flexibility are equally important for remaining balanced and limber, both inside and out. Twisting yoga postures can help us to move between solidity and fluidity by practicing staying both rooted and pliable.
Benefits of Sage’s Pose
Twisting yoga postures have a number of health benefits, including stretching, strengthening and increasing the flexibility of vertebral (spinal) muscles, as well as stretching the hips. Engaging the twist on an exhalation can help strengthen the core muscles. The movement of the trunk around the spine has an energizing effect on circulation. The twisting action can also offer some relief for constipation.
Twisting yoga poses also help maintain mobility in the chest, particularly along the spine and sternum where the ribs attach. This mobility aids in our ability to take full breaths, therefore supporting our bodies’ respiratory function.
Twists are a wonderful way to explore the “dance” between stability and flexibility, both physically and mentally. With all spinal twists, it’s important to remember the importance of maintaining the integrity of your structure. Incorporate your whole spine and avoid creating the rotation by leveraging with your hands or forcing your body into a shape. Protect your low back by allowing your pelvis some natural movement. Do not try to hold it in a stationary position.
Try incorporating more twists into your yoga practice and enjoy the benefits.
Basic Sage’s Pose
- Start in Dandasana (Staff Pose), seated with the legs extended in front of you. Sitting with the hips elevated on a folded blanket is recommended for most beginners or anyone with generally limited range of motion. Make sure you sit on a folded blanket if your lower spine is rounded (convex instead of concave). It’s also important to remain upright and avoid collapsing through the middle and upper spine and chest.
- Place your hands just behind your hips. (If seated on a blanket hold on to the back edge of the blanket fold with your fingers facing the back wall.) Pressing your palms or fingertips into the mat or blanket for leverage, lift your sternum, finding length in your spine.
- Keep your chest lifted, and release your arms.
- Bend your right leg, placing your right foot flat on the floor. Draw your heel toward the back of your right thigh. There will be about a palm’s width of space between your left inner thigh and the inner side of your right foot.
- On an inhalation, reach your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, finding even more length through your spine.
- Place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee, and press that knee into your elbow.
- As you exhale, twist your spine, placing your right hand on the ground close to your right hip to help you lengthen your spine.
- Take several breaths here. Without force, move a little bit more deeply into the twist with each exhalation. Maintain the length of your spine and adjust the hand on the floor to assist as needed.
- Stay for several breaths and then release the twist mindfully. Repeat on the other side.