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How to Do a Prayer Twist in Yoga


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

At my yoga studio, we call this pose a prayer twist, but you may also hear it referred to as revolved chair or parivrtta utkatasana. There is also a variation with your arms extended out, but here we will focus on the basic form with your palms pressed together.

I'll walk you through how to get into this twist from chair pose, so if you need a refresher on utkatasana, you can go read How to Hold Chair Pose in Yoga and then come back here.

Note: This is a big twist. Please ensure that your spine is warmed up for it by first doing a few stretches forward and back and side to side. You can do a few rounds of folding forward and coming into a halfway lift, and flowing through a vinyasa with extended side angle and reverse warrior will also help prep your body.

How to Transition into a Prayer Twist on the Right

  • In your chair pose, bring your hands to heart center with your palms pressed together and your elbows out.
  • Inhale as you hinge forward in your hips and press your chest forward as well.
  • Exhale as you twist toward the right side of your body.
  • Hook your left elbow over your right knee.
  • Pull your knees back in line with each other if your left knee has crept forward.
  • Pull your right hip forward in line with your left.
  • Work to lift your hips higher than your heart. (This is difficult. Don't be too hard on yourself!)
  • Keep your palms pressed together and stack your elbows directly in line with each other.
  • Look up toward your right elbow to help deepen your twist.
  • Keep your spine long and avoid crunching forward. Keep pressing through your chest.
  • Pull your latissimus dorsi down your back to help with lengthening your spine.
  • As you breathe deeply, try to twist a little further with each exhale.

To do prayer twist on the left side, you'll simply reverse the instructions and hook your right elbow over your left knee. Pull your right hip back and your left knee forward to square everything out. Look up toward your left elbow.

Your body may feel completely different on the left and right sides. That's normal, and it's OK to have one side that you can go a lot deeper and one side that feels more tense. Focus on your breath and make sure you hold each side for the same amount of time to be balanced.

Drink a lot of water after doing a deep twist like this. Your body will be releasing a lot of toxins, and you'll want to replenish your fluids and stay hydrated.

Follow Hayley Hyer @hayhyer