Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers.
—Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry
Where Spring is blooming, all of nature is hinting at renewal. Fruit trees burst into bright pink and white blossoms, birdsong awakens the early riser and the light of day stretches longer toward night. Rain showers quicken to heavy storms, followed by sunshine and more bursts of vibrancy. With so many twists and turns in the rhythm of this season, Spring is an ideal time to cleanse, purify, and renew the body, heart and spirit.
Marichyasana III is a seated lateral twist that can help with Spring cleansing. Named “ray of light” of the sun or moon, Marichi was the son of Brahma and one of the seven sages of creation in the Vedas. The chief of the Maruts or the “shining ones”, Marichi is a shining figure in the lineage of Hindu mythology – he grandfathered Surya, the sun god honored in our Sun Salutations, and was the great-grandfather of Manu, the Vedic father of humanity.
According to Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar, a regular practice of Marichyasana III can help alleviate backaches, hip pain and shoulder problems, strengthen the muscles of the neck, and stimulate digestion and metabolism by toning the liver, spleen and intestines.
While nourishing the spine and stimulating detoxification, deep abdominal seated twists like Marichyasana are also energetically, emotionally and mentally purifying. As we twist and compress the organs, blood is “pushed” through more efficiently, releasing toxins and cleansing. We can also experience a transformational shift in consciousness, from feeling sluggish or stuck to feeling more alive, awake and aware as we perceive our own “ray of light” within and rest in this presence.
Sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose), with both legs extended. If your spine tends to round when you sit, position your pelvis just on the edge of a folded blanket.
Bend your left knee and draw your heel in close to your pelvis. Press firmly into the base of your big toe and inner heel, spread the weight evenly across the whole foot. Reach out through your right leg, spread the toes and press through your right heel.
On an exhalation, turn your ribcage to the left, extending your arm beyond your outer left thigh. Bend your elbow and brace your right upper arm against the back of your right outer thigh. Walk your left hand behind your pelvis, resting your fingertips on the floor.
Root down through your sitting bones and lift the sides of your chest with equal effort. Turn your head to look over your left shoulder.
Stay steady in your pelvis. Your right sitting bone may want to shift forward and your left one may want to lift up. Find your deep roots and release them further into the earth. As you inhale, extend your spine, and draw the breath into the abdomen, the back body and side ribs. As you exhale, soften your belly into your thigh and deepen the twist. In the beginning, your breath may feel short and fast, so slow down the exhalations, making space for a long, slow breath in.
You can turn your head over the right shoulder, as shown in the photo, and direct your gaze toward the tip of your nose.
Stay for 5-10 long, slow breaths. Then, slowly unwind you torso. Extend your left leg and sit for a moment, savoring the space you’ve created for renewal.
Chrisandra Fox Walker teaches tools for rewiring and renewing the brain, body and heart in weekly classes at Yoga Tree (click here for her schedule), private sessions and retreats. She leads The Heart of Renewal Retreats and is a core teacher in the 200-hour Teacher Training at Yoga Tree. Email Chrisandra@gmail.com
Photography by Ryan Scott. Email Ryanedwardscott@gmail.com