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Ardha Matsyendrasana or Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

English Name(s)
Half Lord of The Fishes Pose
Sanskrit
अर्ध मत्स्येन्द्रासन / Ardha Matsyendrasana
Pronunciation
AHR-duh MOTS-yen-DRAHS-uh-nuh
Meaning
Ardha = Half
Matsya = fish
Indra = King
Asana = Pose; Posture

Ardha Matsyendrasana at a Glance

Ardha Matsyendrasana, or the half fish pose, is a deep, restorative twist that strengthens and rejuvenates. This pose is named after the great yogi Matsyendrasana founded Hatha YogaMatsyendrasana is considered a base pose as Matsyendrasana variations can be derived from this pose. Matsyendrasana helps boost energy in the body and hence can be included in flow yoga sequences.

Benefits:

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana helps to relieve tension in the arms, upper back, shoulders, and neck.
  • It helps to improve your blood circulation and helps with digestion.
  • The deep twist helps to stretch and improves spinal mobility.
  • This pose helps to strengthen and rejuvenate your body and mind.
  • It helps to stimulate your pelvic region and blood circulation to the reproductive organs and urinary system.

Who can do it?

Beginners can do this asana, but initially under the guidance of the yoga teachers. Individuals with good spine, hips, and shoulder flexibility can do this asana. People already practicing yoga can do the Ardha Matsyendrasana pose. People looking to improve their posture, get relief from mild back pain and improve their digestive system can start doing this asana under the guidance of a trained professional.

Who should not do it?

People with recent surgery or injury in their shoulders, hips, and arms should avoid this pose. Pregnant women should avoid doing it. People with high blood pressure should avoid it or consult their health care professional. People with severe knee problems should avoid this pose. Beginners should do some simpler variations before doing this pose.

How to Do Ardha Matsyendrasana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

  • No matter how challenging it might seem, there are several variations for this spinal twist to try as per your potential. As the Matsyendrasana or Lord of the Fishes pose is challenging, the Ardha Matsyendrasana variation has been introduced.
  • Sit on the yoga mat or any soft surface and make yourself comfortable.
  • Start by sitting on the mat in the Staff pose (Dandasana), keeping your legs straight and hands beside your body.
  • Bend your right leg (right knee) and bring the heel close to your left thigh (close to the anus) and see that at this position your hips are grounded.
  • Now, bend your left leg and bring it toward you and the knee pointing upward.
  • Now, lift the left foot off the floor and cross it over the right leg, which is bent. Bring it over the right knee and place it around the right knee (right hip); your left knee is close to your upper body.
  • Stretch your left hand, bring it behind, and place your palm flat on the floor behind your back firmly for support.
  • Now, inhale deeply, press your sitting bones, lift your right arm, and while you exhale, push your left knee with the right elbow and hold your left foot (bent leg) as if your Left knee were closer to the right armpit (variation for the arms, you can keep your right elbow over the left knee and fingers pointing up)
  • Twist your torso towards your left side and gaze over your left shoulder.
  • To deepen the twist, inhale and exhale to deepen the twist in the Half lord of the Fishes pose.
  • Hold the Half lord of the Fishes pose for a few breaths.
  • To release exhale, come out gently and sit in the Dandasana pose.
  • To balance your body, gently do the same procedure of the seated spinal twist with the other leg.
  • Sit down, legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your left leg, keep the left foot heel to your right hip, and keep both hips grounded.
  • Place your right foot over your left knee on the floor.
  • Bring your right hand behind your spine, palm on the floor, and fingers pointing away.
  • Raise your left arm, bringing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee and fingers pointing up. If you are flexible, you can hold on to your right ankle. Twist your torso gently toward your right, looking over your right shoulder.
  • Hold Half lord of the Fishes pose for a few breaths, exhale and come out of the pose gently, back to the dandasana pose.

What are the Benefits of the Ardha Matsyendrasana?

  • It helps to increase spinal rotation, boosts blood flow to the disks, and builds strength and flexibility in the erector spinal muscles.
  • Half Lord of the Fishes stretches your outer hips and thighs, opens up your shoulders and chest, and strengthens your upper back, lengthening your spine and stretching the front of your thighs.
  • It helps to stimulate the Solar Plexus Chakra, which enhances and balances the functions of your stomach, gallbladder, liver, spleen, and pancreas.
  • It helps to massage your abdominal muscles and increases your digestive juices, which keeps your digestive system healthy.
  • This pose helps to stretch your leg muscles and twist while holding the pose. It improves blood circulation by improving blood circulation by strengthening the hamstrings, calves, ankles, knee, and pelvic floor muscles.
  • Helps to relieve stiffness in your hip joints and reduces tension in your arms, shoulders, upper back, and neck.
  • Including this in the exercise routine can be helpful for people working on the computers all day.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Ardha Matsyendrasana

  • Practising Ardha Matsyendrasana helps to balance blood sugar levels by stimulating the functions of your pancreas.
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana is an intense deep stretch and is beneficial, which helps to get rid of any stiffness between the vertebrae. It helps to strengthen the spine and improves the posture.
  • This pose can be useful for people with constipation and digestion issues.
  • Regular practice of this pose can help rectify the rounded shoulders.
  • The half spinal twist can also be helpful to reduce your diabetes, as the pancreas is squeezed while twisting.
  • Practicing the Ardha Matsyendrasana pose can help cure mild back pain and sciatica.
  • As this pose activates the kidney and liver, it can help cure urinary tract infections (UTI) and other nephrotic disorders.
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana is one of the asanas that stretch your chest and open up the airways. More oxygen may enter the lungs and improve the lung’s oxygen capacity, which can be helpful for asthma.
  • This asana helps to stretch your pelvic regions, which secretes the stress hormone and increases the supply of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the reproductive organs, which improves your reproductive health.

Safety and Precautions

  • If you have a spinal injury such as a slipped disc, you should avoid this pose and consult your health care professional.
  • This pose can be helpful to relieve lower back pain, but you should be if you stay very mindful and respectful of your physical limitations and body sensations.
  • If you are pregnant, avoid doing this pose.
  • If you are suffering from hyper or hypothyroidism, slipped disc, or spinal injuries should also avoid the asana.

Common Mistakes

  • Warm-up and preparatory poses are important before you get into the Ardha Matsyendrasana pose.
  • Twist your spine according to its flexibility. Your body knows what is best for you.
  • Do this asana only on an empty stomach or after 4 to 5 hours after the meal.
  • Don’t forget to engage the core while doing this asana.
  • Do the resting pose after this asana to recover and relax.

Tips for Ardha Matsyendrasana

  • Avoid hunching on your back (spine long) or straining the neck while holding the posture.
  • The buttocks of the raised knee should be grounded.
  • Keep your left foot flat.
  • Do preparatory yoga poses, like Baddha Konasana, Bharadvaja’s Twist, and Reclined Hand to Big Toe yoga asanas.
  • Breathe continuously throughout the pose.
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana should be practiced on both sides to help balance the twist and provide flexibility and strength to your spine and abdomen.
  • for people with less flexibility, you can leave your right or left leg straight (one leg).
  • If you are new to the pose, do it under the guidance of the yoga teacher.
  • Only regular practice can improve the flexibility level.

The Physical Alignment Principles for Ardha Matsyendrasana

  • Bend your right knee and keep your right foot outside your left hip. The right heel should touch your left buttock.
  • You can rest the foot slightly under the buttocks.
  • Cross the left foot over the right leg and keep outside your right thigh or knee.
  • Spine straight and elongated.
  • Keep your right elbow on the outside (fingers pointed up) of your left knee or catch hold of the left ankle.
  • Inhale to lengthen your spine, then exhale to gently twist to the right and keep your core engaged.
  • Roll your shoulders back and down. 
  • the torso twists towards the top leg.
  • Keep your left hand behind your back, and don’t lean on it.
  • Gaze over the left shoulder and keep breathing.
  • Keep your chest open and avoid hunching your back,
  • Be grounded on the sit bones.
  • You can take a gentle counter-twist in the opposite direction before repeating the posture on the other side.

Ardha Matsyendrasanaand Breath

In Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose), your breath is very important in enhancing stretch and relaxation. When you inhale, lengthen your spine and gently deepen the twist while you exhale, using your breath to help you turn further. Breathing helps flexibility and eases tension in your spine and back muscles. Keeping steady, deep breaths throughout the pose is beneficial but keeps you calm and focused during the practice.

Ardha Matsyendrasana and Variations

Beginners can sit on a cushion or use a yoga block under the bent knee for support

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana 1
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana 2
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana 3
  • Purna Matsyendrasana.
  • Sit back facing the wall and do the asana.

Take Away

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose/Seated Twist Pose) is a deep, restorative twist that strengthens and rejuvenates. Your torso twists in the pose, which helps to improve circulation, helps with digestion, improves spinal mobility and also helps stimulate digestion.

You can choose the variations depending on your physical limits. Initially, beginners should start to learn the yoga postures under a trained yoga professional. Keep your breath flowing. It also increases your self-awareness and improves your focus and concentration. Any health concerns consult your doctor before you start doing it.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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