Ardha Matsyendrasana: Steps and Benefits

Introduction

Ardha Matsyendrasana is a yoga posture that belongs to the group of Matsyendrasana. This pose is the most popular among its group of poses. It is easier variant of the full form of advanced level Matsyendrasana.

Let us have some insight into its meaning, steps involved, and the benefits it offers.

Ardha Matsyendrasana

Pose NameArdha Matsyendrasana
Sanskritअर्ध मत्स्येन्द्रासन
IASTArdha Matsyendrāsana
EnglishHalf Matsyendranath Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
PronunciationarDHa-matsya-eendra-asana
OriginMedieval
LevelIntermediate
GroupMatsyendrasana
TypeSpinal Twist
Seated Twist

Origin and History

The full version of Matsyendrasana was the favorite pose of Sage Matsyendranath, the founder of Hatha Yoga and Nath Sampradhaya (Nath tradition). Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the full form of Matsyendrasana.

Curious legend of Sage Matsyendra

There is a legend about Sage Matsyendra. Once Lord Shiva (Lord Adinath) went to lonely island with Goddess Parvati. He taught the secrets of Yoga to Parvati. Lord Shiva saw a fish heard that teaching and remain still its mind being concentrated. On seeing the concentration, Lord Shiva took mercy on the Fish and made him an accomplished Yogi with a divine body. He came to be known as Matsyendra. Alternate versions of this legend is also available. Thus Lord Adinath is the founder of Hatha Yoga and Yogi Matsyendranath is first disciple.

Ardha Matsyendrasana Meaning

The Sanskrit term Ardha Matsyendrasana is the combination of three words: Ardha, Matsyendra, and Asana. Ardha means Half. Matsyendra is Sage Matsyendranath. Asana means posture. Hence it is known as Half Matsyendranath Pose.

The name Matsyendra is also a combination two words: Matsya and Indra. Matsya means fish and Indra means Lord. Hence the name means the Lord of the Fishes. It is why we call this pose alternatively as Half Lord of the Fishes Pose.

This posture is an important posture of Spinal Twist. Hence Matsyendrasana is also called as Spinal Twist and Ardha Matsyendrasana as Half Spinal Twist.

Ardha Matsyendrasana Step-by-Step Procedure

Ardha Matsyendrasana Safety and Precautions

One should take care when one has Spinal Injury or issues. If one has a degenerative disc or sciatica, he should consult his physician before attempting this posture.

Those who have gone through surgery in knees or knee ailments should avoid this posture.

Preparatory Poses

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose is not a very hard one to perform. It comes your way with a little practice. However, if one has some experience with the following preparatory poses, it will be easier for him to get mastery over it.

Ardha Matsyendrasana Steps

Step 1

Sit with your legs stretched out. Bend the right leg and place the right foot on the floor out side of left knee with toes facing forward.

Step 2

Bend the left leg and bring the foot to the right buttock. The left heel should touch the right buttock and the outside of the left leg should be on the floor.

Step 3

Hold the right foot or ankle with your left hand placing the arm outside of your right knee so that left armpit should be closer to your right knee. Sit straight.

Step 4

Raise your right hand to shoulder level horizontally and fix the eye-sight on your fingers. Slowly twist the torso to the right with arm, trunk, and head. Eye sight should move with your fingers.

Step 5

Now bend the right elbow and place the right arm around the back of the waist. The back of the right hand should go around left side of the waist.

Step 6

Reverse the steps to release the posture and repeat with other side.

Duration

Initially, a practice of one or two minutes on each side is enough. Gradually, it may be extended to the duration of five minutes on each side.

Ardha Matsyendrasana Release Procedure

The release procedure should be Step 5 through Step 1 in the reverse order.

Ardha Matsyendrasana Tips

A beginner may use a blanket folded under buttock for support. Some experts recommend sitting near a wall placing the back near the wall. But it requires competent supervision. It is not recommended when you are doing this yourself.

Advanced Pose Considerations

Once get proficiency by performing at least for five minutes on each side one may go for Matsyendrasana full version.

Follow Up Poses

After performing this pose, one of the postures with out-stretched legs or standing poses should be done.

  1. Pascimottanasana
  2. Padahasthasana

Ardha Matsyendrasana Variations

Apart from the version mentioned in the steps above, there are two more versions of Ardha Matsyendrasana. Let us call them Version 2 and Version 3.

Version 2

In version 2, instead holding the right foot with the left hand, the left hand should be placed under the right knee and clasp with the palms of the right hand.

Version 3

In version 3, the left hand is folded up by elbow smoothly pressing against the right knee. The right hand is placed vertically down the floor. This is the easier version.

Ardha Matsyendrasana Benefits

  • According to Hatha Yoga Pradipika, this posture increases the appetite by proliferating the gastric fire. It destroys terrible diseases. It awakens the Kundalini and regulates the moon. (The moon is said to be located at the place above the root of the palate. This moon is dropping the ambrosial nectar which is being destroyed by the gastric fire. This posture prevents the ambrosial nectar being wasted.)
  • This posture decreases diastolic blood pressure and perceived stress, and increased upper body and trunk dynamic muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and health perception. (Ref1)
  • It makes the spine more flexible. Spinal nerves are toned. It improves the the functions of the Spine.
  • The flexibility of shoulder will increase.
  • It helps the conditions of Sciatica pain and degenerative disc.
  • The organs in abdomen are toned. It improves the functions of Pancreas, adrenal gland, and liver.
  • It helps open the joints of the hip.
  • This posture prevents urinary tract disorders.
  • It helps the conditions of diabetes and stimulates the functions of Kidneys.
  • It removes the stress and stiffness of the back
  • This pose improves respiratory breathing capacity by increasing chest wall expansion and forced expiratory lung volumes.

Group Asanas

This posture belongs to the Group of Matsyendrasana. The following postures also belong to this group.

  1. Poorna Matyendrasana or Simply Matsyendrasana (Lord of the Fishes Pose)
  2. Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined Lord of the Fishes Pose)