About the pose

Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) is named after the great yogi Matsyendranath who founded Hatha Yoga. The English name, Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, comes from the Sanskrit words ‘ardha’ = ‘half’, ‘matsya’ = ‘fish’, ‘eendra’ = ‘king’. This yoga pose has other variations and can be referred as Half Spinal Twist Pose or Vakrasana (which means twist).

This yoga pose usually appears as a seated spinal twist with many variations, and is one of the twelve basic yoga poses (asanas) in many systems of Hatha Yoga. In this yoga pose the spine gets its maximum twist at the upper back with the thighs placed over each other and with the support of the arms the torso gets its twist.

Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose is considered a base pose as half lord of the fishes pose variations can be derived from this pose. Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose helps boost energy in the body and hence can be included in flow yoga sequences.

Anatomy

Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose benefits the following muscles and hence can be included in yoga sequences with the corresponding muscle(s) focus:

  • Arms and Shoulders
  • Lower Back
  • Middle Back
  • Hamstrings
  • Hips
  • Psoas

How to do the pose

  • Sit with your legs outstretched in front of you in Staff Pose / Dandasana.
  • Lift your right leg and place your right foot on the outside of your left knee. Bend your left leg and place the left foot on the outside of your right hip.
  • As you inhale, press your sitting bones down and lengthen your spine. Place your right arm behind you, extend your left arm up.
  • As you exhale, twist your body to the right, hugging your knee with your left arm, or hooking your elbow behind your left knee.
  • Keep lengthening your spine on the in-breath and twisting from the belly on the out-breath.
  • Find ease and your appropriate edge in that pose by moving in and out with barely noticeable pulses. Allow your hips to follow the movement of the spine to some degree.
  • Stay for 5 to 8 breaths.
  • To come out of the pose, come out of the twist as you exhale and move back into Dandasana.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Beginners tips

  • Sit on a cushion or a blanket to be able to ground through both sitting bones and lengthen your spine. Keeping the spine long is your main focus in this pose.
  • Try the pose with your lower leg outstretched in front of you. This can help if you struggle to keep both sitting bones grounded.
  • Hugging your knee with your hand, instead of hooking the elbow behind it, is a perfectly good option.

Benefits

  • Helps to maintain the spine’s natural range of motion.
  • Stretches your hips, shoulders and neck.
  • Stimulates the abdominal area and can help digestion.
  • Relieves backache and tension.
  • Especially good if you have been working at a desk all day.

Watch out for

  • If you have a spinal injury such as a slipped disc you may need to avoid twisting poses or practise them under the supervision of your health professional.
  • This pose can be amazing to relieve lower back pain, if you stay very mindful and respectful of your boundaries and body sensations.
  • Don’t allow your lower back to collapse, if you feel you can’t keep your back straight in this twist, sit up on something like a block or blankets.

FURTHER READINGS


Variations

  • To deepen the twist, move to a wall. Make sure your back is facing the wall, and sit a foot or so away from it, depending on the length of your arms. When twisting, use the wall as an opposing force to help move the front of the torso against the thigh.

Credits

ModelCéline Pannier – An Ambassador of Beinks
Yoga Matb’EARTH  &  b’EARTH X by Beinks
PhotographerSophie Dupont
ContentTummee & Ekhart Yoga

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