Were not always nice to our bodies. We eat processed foods. We carry heavy bags. All this does a job on our bodies inside and out.
Thats where a pose like Ardha Matsyendrasana can help. In English Ardha Matsyendrasana (AR-duh MOT-see-on-drah-sana) translates to Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. Its also often referred to as a Half Spinal Twist.
Benefits of Ardha Matsyendrasana
From the spine to the digestive tract to the mind, the position has an effect on much of the torso and can help to repair some of the damage we do to our bodies daily.
It massages the internal organs to help with gastrointestinal upset such as constipation.
It opens and lubricates the vertebrae to improve flexibility and relieve minor back pain.
It calms nervous disorders by increasing heart rate and deepening the breath.
How to Do Ardha Matseyendrasana?
Its important that your body is warmed up before attempting this pose.
Start in staff pose with your legs in front of you and your weight in a neutral place just in front of the sit bones. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Bend your right leg under your left so your right heel is outside of your left hip. As you do this, slide your left foot, still flat on the floor, next to your right thigh.
The closer your feet are to your body, the more challenging this will be.
Place your left hand flat on the floor behind you for support.
Inhale and lift your right arm straight up towards the sky, opening the right side body without letting the left side body collapse. On the exhale, twist to the left, bend your right arm and lower it to the outside of your left thigh.
Gaze over your left shoulder.
This is the basic pose. From here, you can modify as needed.
Precautions in Half Spinal Twist
Any twists can be challenging if you have tight hips. If this is you, take modifications.
Spinal twists such as this are not recommended for those with back or neck problems or pregnant women. If you fall into either of these categories and have an existing practice, do what youre comfortable with. If you are new to these poses, consult a doctor.
Tips for Beginners
Twists may be difficult for beginners. If you feel any pain, you should ease off, and you have a few options.
Find the one thats right for you.
** Bring your feet further away from your body.
** Bring your planted hand further to the outside as opposed to right behind you.
** Instead of bring your arm above your knee, grab hold of your knee (gently) with the opposite hand, and continue to twist and look over your shoulder.
Take Ardha Matseyendrasa Further
You have a few options to deepen the pose.
** Straighten your arm to grab hold of the ankle of the bent leg.
** Continue to wrap your arm around the bent leg, reaching your armpit for your thigh as you twist it open. As you do so, lift the planted hand and reach for the opposite hand for a full bind.
** Adjust your feet to move into half lotus, so the foot that is bent under you is instead resting in the hip crease.
** Open and breathe
Whichever version of the pose youre in, with each inhale, lengthen the spine. With each exhale, twist further. Hold this posture for five breaths or longer. Allow the calming effect of the pose to settle in and the benefits to take hold. And, dont forget, you have two sides! Repeat on the opposite side.