Skip to content

Shava Udarakarshanasana – Universal Spinal Twist

Translation: Shava- corpse; Udar- abdomen; akarshan- stretch, pulling; asana- pose.

The universal spinal twist pose is a relaxation-inducing pose. It is mostly sequenced just before the Shavasana as a preparation for it.

This pose stimulates abdominal/stomach or diaphragmatic breathing which activated the parasympathetic nervous system. This nervous system is responsible for relaxing the body.

If you stay in this pose for a bit longer then you might start yawning and would feel like sleeping because of the relaxing effect of this pose.

In the Sanskrit name of this pose, the word Shava appears (Shava udarakarshanasana) which means a dead body or a corpse. The hint that this name gives is to keep the body completely relaxed. Some of the yoga postures require active muscle engagement but for this posture, you need to let go and try to relax the muscles as much as you can (once you have done the initial alignment).


Steps for Universal spinal twist pose

  • Start lying on your back in Shavasana (corpse posture)
  • Exhale, bend your right knee and place the right foot on the left thigh, keeping the left leg extended.
  • Inhale bring your left hand onto your right knee, and spread your right arm out perpendicular to your body, palm facing down.
  • Exhale and bring the right knee towards the floor on the left side of the body. Make sure to keep your shoulders on the floor.
  • Turn the head and look to the right hand.
  • Breathe deeply, relaxing into the posture, focussing on sinking your shoulders into the floor. Allow yourself to stay here for some time (minimum of 10 breaths)
  • To exit the posture, inhale and lift the right leg up and extend it with an exhale, bring the arms to your side.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

Depending on your flexibility you might not be able to keep both the knee and the arm on the floor. If you try to bring the knee on the floor the arm lifts up because of the tight chest, shoulder, and middle back. To be more relaxed in the pose try to place a pillow under the bent knee so that it is lifted and the arms can relax on the floor.


  • Relieves pain from the lower back, waist, and pelvic area.
  • Can reduce abdominal fat
  • Helps to realign hips
  • Relaxes spinal tension


  • Back or hips injury.
  • Spondylolisthesis.
  • Slip disc/ Disc prolapse.

Looking for any other posture? Try our posture library.