Half Lord of the Fishes Pose is a popular seated twist. Twisting poses are a common addition to any yoga class because they provide a multitude of benefits for the entire body. Twists increase flexibility in the spine, calm the mind, relax the nervous system, improve digestion, and cleanse the internal organs. It is named after Matsyendra, a legendary yoga master from India. Practicing this twist will bring many benefits to your body, mind, and spirit — which may make you feel like a yoga master today
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. Avoid practicing this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to your knees, hips, or spine. Those with back pain, back injuries, or degenerative disk disease should approach this pose with caution and should only attempt to practice it under the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable instructor. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
How To Do The Ardha Matsyendrasana : Step-by-Step Instructions
- Start in a seated position with legs out straight.
- Cross the right leg over the left so the right heel is outside the left hip.
- If comfortable, bend the left knee and bring the left heel to the right hip, resting the top of the foot on the ground. Alternatively, leave the left leg extended.
- Reach your left arm in the air, then twisting at the lower belly, hook the left elbow outside the right knee.
- Place the right hand on the floor behind the tailbone, as close to the body as possible. Use this arm to keep the spine long and sitting tall.
- Be careful not to use the elbow to force the body to turn, but rather use the strength of the core to twist. Practice on both sides.
Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- Let the back of your neck be soft. Balance your head gently over your spine. Never lead the twist with your head. Instead, let your head be the last part of your body to turn.
- Keep your belly soft throughout the twist.
- Keep your buttocks grounded throughout the pose.
- Never rush or force the pose. Move with your breath. Inhale to lengthen your spine, and exhale to gently rotate deeper.
- Twist to the right first. Doing so will place pressure on the ascending colon. Twisting to the left places pressure on the descending colon. This right-left order mimics the flow of digestion and helps improve detoxification. Reversing the sequence and pressing on the descending colon first may cause aggravation, constipation, bloating, and intestinal discomfort.
In this version of the pose, the opposite-side arm is wrapped around the outside of the raised-leg upper thigh. This may be impractical, and potentially harmful, for beginning students. Be sure to sit up well on a blanket support and for the time being just wrap your arm around the raised leg and hug the thigh to your torso.
Modifications & Variations
Try these simple changes to find a variation that works best for you:
- If you are uncomfortable sitting flat on the floor, prop yourself up on a folded, firm blanket or extra yoga mat.
- Those with less flexibility in the hips can keep the bottom leg extended.
- If it is difficult to place your opposite-side elbow to the outside of your raised leg, hug the thigh with your hands, instead. In time, your flexibility will increase and you will be able to wrap your entire arm around your thigh. Once that is comfortable, you will be able to place your elbow to the outside of the knee in the full version of the pose.
- For variety in the neck stretch, you can either turn your head in the direction of the twist, or in the opposite direction. Gaze softly at the horizon with either variation.
Benefits Of The Ardha Matsyendrasana
Traditional yoga texts claim that this pose destroys deadly diseases and awakens the cosmic energy called “Kundalini.” Modern teachers agree to its many benefits, which include:
- Stretched shoulders, hips, neck, and spine
- Relief from fatigue, backache, and sciatica
- Stimulated digestion and metabolism
- Stimulated kidneys and liver
- Relief form menstrual discomfort
This pose energizes the body, and calms the mind and nervous system. It is also therapeutic for asthma and infertility. As with all twists in yoga, Ardha Matsyendrasana relieves stress and restores balance to body, mind, and spirit.
Including twists in your yoga practice will help you to find ease, balance, and serenity in all areas of your life. Twisting and lengthening your spine can make you feel re-energized and revitalized. Squeezing out toxins from your abdominal organs will cleanse and refresh you, inside and out. Practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana on a regular basis will keep you feeling young, vital, and healthy!
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