Lord of the Fishes, Half
ARDHA MATSYENDRĀSANA (अर्ध मत्स्येन्द्रासन)
(AR-dhuh MOT-see-en-DRAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Ardha’= half, ‘Matsya’= fish, ‘indra’= ruler or lord, ‘āsana’= posture
Sage Matsyendra was a renowned Yoga Teacher who, according to legend,
developed this pose


Alternate Names

Half Matsyendra’s Pose
Seated Spine Twist
Seated Half Spinal Twist
Half Spinal Twist
Matsyendrasana

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Seated / Twist / Hip Opener / Stretch

1. Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana), seated with your legs extended straight. Bring your shoulder blades back so that your shoulders are under your ears and your spine is straight.
2. Bend your right knee and bring it back to your chest. Cross your right leg over your left leg, placing your right foot flat on the floor next to your left knee. Bend and rotate your left knee in and under your right thigh so that the outside of the left foot rests on the floor.
3. Lengthen your spine from the tailbone up through the crown on the head, making sure that your weight is evenly distributed on your sit bones, rooting and grounding them to the mat.
4. Inhale, and engage your core, as you twist at the waist (or base of the spine) to the right. Keep your hips squared forward with your torso close to the inner thigh of the right leg.
5. Bring your left arm to the outside of your right knee. Bend your left elbow so that your elbow rest on the outside of your right knee with your hand straight up, fingers pointed to the sky, and your palm facing away from your leg. Rest your right hand on the floor behind you, deepening the twist. Your hand can either be flat on the floor or on tee pee fingers.
6. Keeping your neck relaxed, turn your head to the right, gently looking behind.
7. Make sure your chin is up and that your chest and shoulders are open and broad. Your shoulder blades are flat to your back.
8. Breathe deep into this pose
9. When you are ready, release and repeat on other side.

Common Adjustments
• Neck or shoulder strain
• Looking down
• Shoulders tense and up by the ears
• Lower back rounded / Chest collapsed
• Hip not grounded with even weight placement throughout the sit bones
• Twisting at the hips instead of the waist/lower spine
• Torso not snug against the inner thigh of the knee bent to the chest

Modifications
• To help students with the twist due to lower-back weakness, hip or hamstring tightness, or their back or shoulders are slumped forward, place a bolster, folded blanket, folded mat, or block under the sit bones to raise the torso.
• For students with slumped posture, place a block behind them to place their hand on behind their back. Alternatively, they can sit closer to a wall, so that when they twist, they can place their hand on the wall to help push their back up straight and closer to the inner thigh with the knee bent toward the chest.
• Students with soreness in their ankles or knees can place a folded blanket or mat under them for support.
• Students with neck issues should keep their head and neck in line with the torso and spine.
• Students with knee injuries should not place their elbow on the outside of their knee. Instead they should place their hand either on the shin below their knee, or by the ankle/foot for support in the twist. Alternatively, they can hold around the knee so that pressure is in the thigh instead of the knee.
• Pregnant students (after the first trimester), should rotate only through the upper spine or they can turn away from the knee that is up by the chest.
• Students with hip replacements should only bend one knee to the chest and place the foot on the inside of the extended leg. This way their legs stay aligned with the hips.
• For students with tight hips, quadriceps, and/or hamstrings, they should practice Seated Spinal Twist, Sage Twist Extended, or Son of Brahma III (Marichyasana III) with their leg extended.
• For advanced students who would like to deepen the stretch, they can practice Full Lord of the Fishes (Paripurna Matsyendrasana).

Counter Poses
• Staff (Dandasana)
• Gate (Parighasana)
• Forward Bend, Standing (Uttanasana)
• Forward Bend, Seated (Paschimottanasana)
• Reverse Table Top (Ardha Purvottanasana) or Crab Pose
• Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana)
• Cat (Marjaryasana) or Cow (Bitilasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
• Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
• Forward Bend, Seated Wide Angle - Dragonfly (Upavistha Konasana)
• Wind Relieving (Pavanamuktasana)

Anatomy
• Neck• Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Chest (Pectoralis Major)• Biceps and Triceps
• Middle (Thoracic) and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine• Abdomen (Core) and Hips (Psoas and Iliopsoas)
• Gluteus Maximums, Medius, and Minimus (Glutes)• Quadriceps and Hamstrings
• Ankles• Feet

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the neck, chest, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, abdomen, spine, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles and ankles. This also improves flexibility and balance.
• Opens the spine, upper back, and hips and reduces tightness or pain around the lower back - Also helps improve posture and alignment and keeps the spine supple.
• Massages internal organs like the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, intestines, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands. This also stimulates the circulatory, digestion, respiratory, reproductive and lymphatic systems which helps with digestion and improves circulation as well as respiratory functions. This helps with sciatica, asthma, constipation, menopause discomfort, menstrual discomfort, and relieves flatulence.
• Stimulates the nervous system, which calms the brain, reducing stress and anxiety, as well as relieves mild depression, insomnia, and fatigue. Twists also helps improve focus and concentration.
• Great counter for inversions and preparatory pose for backbends and inversions.

Contraindications
1. Students who have hip, back, or shoulder injuries, have a hip replacement, diarrhea, constipation, hernia, ulcers, a cardiac condition, cold, chest congestion, hyperthyroidism, spondylitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, slipped disc, or are pregnant (after first trimester) should avoid this pose.
2. Students with severe back or neck pain, migraines, high or low blood pressure, insomnia, indigestion, or who have irritable bowel syndrome, should use caution in this pose and seek guidance.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 8 – Seated Postures as “Ardha Matsyendrasana – Half Lord of the Fishes Pose”.
    • Watch the Chapter 8 video “Ardha Matsyendrasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana. **This video covers a variation where the leg is extended.
  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, a variation of this posture can be found in Chapter 8 – Seated Postures as “Matsyendrasana A – Marichi’s Pose, Variation A”.
    • Watch the Chapter 8 video “Matsyendrasana A” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, a variation of this posture can be found in Chapter 8 – Seated Postures as “Matsyendrasana B – Marichi’s Pose, Variation B”.
    • Watch the Chapter 8 video “Matsyendrasana B” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, a variation of this posture can be found in Chapter 8 – Seated Postures as “Matsyendrasana C – Marichi’s Pose, Variation C”.
    • Watch the Chapter 8 video “Matsyendrasana C” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, a variation of this posture can be found in Chapter 8 – Seated Postures as “Matsyendrasana D – Marichi’s Pose, Variation D”.
    • Watch the Chapter 8 video “Matsyendrasana D” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, this posture can be found in Chapter 9 – SITTING POSES as “ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA – Half Lord of the Fishes Pose”.

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