Easy Pose, called “Sukhasana” in Sanskrit, is a basic seated yoga posture. This variation, which includes a twist, provides a greater stretch to the body, relieving tension and helping to prepare the practitioner for other activities. Its Sanskrit name, Parivrtta Sukhasana — (PAH-ruh-VREE-tah soo-KAHS-uh-nuh) — comes from three words:
- “Parivrtta” — meaning “revolved”
- “Sukha” — meaning “easy,” “comfortable,” or “joy” (from “su,” meaning “good,” and “kha,” meaning “space”)
- “Asana” — meaning “pose”
It usually goes by various English names, sometimes referred to as “Seated Twist,” “Easy Twist,” “Simple Cross-Legged Twist,” or other similar variations. This pose is suitable for all levels, from absolute beginners to seasoned practitioners.
Benefits of Easy Pose with Twist
Parivrtta Sukhasana stretches the hips, knees, and ankles. It increases flexibility throughout the spine, shoulders, and chest. It also helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Twisting stimulates and tones your abdominal organs, including the kidneys and digestive organs. This helps with detoxification, which boosts energy and improves your overall health.
Yoga unites or integrates the body with the mind. This integration is the foundation for self-realization.
If your hips are tight, try practicing the pose while seated on a block or bolster. Practicing this pose regularly will help to open your hips further and bring your spine into correct alignment.
Avoid practicing this pose if you have a knee injury. If your hips are very tight, it might be difficult to cross your legs. Never force the pose. Instead, practice a modified version until your flexibility increases (see Modifications & Variations, below). Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Sit on the edge of a firm blanket. Extend your legs in front of your body and sit up straight. Then, cross your legs in front of you at the shins. If your hips are very tight, you can sit on a bolster or block. With your knees wide, place each foot beneath the opposite knee. Fold your legs in toward your torso. This is Easy Pose (Sukhasana).
- Balance your weight evenly across your sit bones. Align your head, neck, and spine. Lengthen your spine, but soften your neck. Relax your feet and thighs.
- Place your right hand on the floor behind you. Bring your left hand to the outside of your right knee, exhaling as you gently twist to the right. Inhale again as you lengthen your spine, and exhale as you twist deeper. Gaze over your right shoulder. Do not push hard against your knee to force a deeper twist.
- Keep your collarbones broad. Do not round your shoulders and sit up straight. Do not lean your torso forward in order to obtain a deeper twist. Instead, twist only as far as you can go while keeping your head aligned directly over your tailbone.
- Hold for up to 10 breaths.
- Exhale as you come back to the center.
- Change the cross of your legs and repeat the twist on the opposite side for the same length of time.
- To release the pose, come back to center.
Modifications & Variations
Easy Pose with Twist can open your chest and shoulders, bringing greater flexibility to your spine. It's important to feel comfortable while seated in this position, so make the changes you need to feel supported in the pose. Here are a few suggestions:
- If your hips are tight, do not sit flat on the floor! Instead, sit up on a blanket, a pile of firm blankets, a yoga bolster or block, or a meditation pillow. When you sit with your hips above the level of your knees, you reduce the strain and stress on your hips, knees, and back. Sitting propped up will also help to open your groins further and bring your spine into correct alignment. Practice with different heights of support to find the one that is most comfortable and appropriate for you.
- If your hips are extremely tight, practice this pose seated in a chair. Keep both feet flat on the floor and your knees facing forward. To twist to the right, grasp the back of the chair with your right hand and place your left hand on your right knee. Release back to center; then repeat the twist on the opposite side.
Easy Pose with Twist can add variety to your regular yoga practice. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Maintain a neutral position of your pelvis, balanced equally across both sit bones. To find this position, gently rock forward and back, then shift your hips side-to-side. When you are in a neutral position, your pubic bone and tailbone should be the same distance from the floor, and both sit bones should hold an even distribution of your body's weight.
- Make sure you change the cross of your legs and twist for the same amount of time in both directions.
- Keep your spine vertical throughout the pose. The crown of your head should maintain its alignment directly over your tailbone.
- Your legs should cross naturally. Do not force them into any position or worry about whether your feet are placed “correctly.” As long as you have a comfortable gap between your feet and your pelvis, and the pose feels comfortable, that is all that matters.
Parivrtta Sukhasana is a simple and easy way to reduce tension in your body and stretch out the stresses of the day. You can come into the pose at any time and anywhere! Whenever you need to release stiffness and regain energy, just sit yourself down and twist it out. This pose adds variety to your practice and can be a great way to remain balanced in your everyday life.