The meaning of the pose is “Half Lord of the Fishes Pose”, but it is commonly known as half spinal twist pose. Also there is purna or poorna matsyendrasana, which is too difficult for beginners.
The most common way this asana is done is right after the deep bending poses, for example, after paschimottanasana, of after the asana “trinity”: bhujangasana-salabhasana-dhanurasana.
Steps for Ardha Matsyendrasana
Sit on the floor, your legs are extended forward. Be relaxed. Bend the right leg and place the right foot on the external side of the left leg, next to the left knee (your left leg is under the bent right one).
Now bend the left leg and place the left foot so that the left heel touches the right buttock.
Keep your shoulders on the same line parallel to the floor. This is the starting posture.
Inhale-exhale, and turn to the right, moving your left elbow over the right knee. Place your left palm on the right foot, or grasp the right ankle. Your right knee should be as close to the armpit of your left hand as possible.
Move your right hand behind your back and keep it there at the waist level. If the flexibility allows, you can try grasping the left foot.
Turn the torso slightly more to the right, opening the chest, but avoid too much tension. Do it on exhaling. Then return to the starting position. Repeat to the left side, changing your legs.
Points to consider
- Turn on exhaling
- Do not do the pose abruptly; avoid any sharp movement during it
- Keep your sitting bones on the floor! Do not raise any of them! This is required to avoid improper twisting of the spine.
- Breathe freely and deeply, but without strain.
Even though ardha-matsyendrasana is a “lighter” form of regular matsyendrasana, you still need to be attentive and careful while doing it to avoid injury and get its full benefits.
Benefits of Half Spinal Twist Pose
The main benefit of the pose it making your spine more flexible and bring a relief to the back muscles after deep bending. Another thing is that by stimulating your spine, the yoga pose helps improve the overall health state of your body, because the spine is a “connecting medium” between the brain and other organs and muscles. Regular practice of ardha matsyendrasana helps with constipation and upper back and shoulders’ stiffness.
Ardha Matsyendrasana Contraindications
The pose is not recommended during pregnancy, and in the case of scoliosis. It is better to consult with your doctor if you are not sure about your condition.
Even if you are able to do it easily, don’t hold the half spinal twist yoga pose for too long, because the excessive stimulation of aham-granthi (an energy center responsible for will power) takes place, which if not managed properly, may lead to negative side effects on a subtle level – the raise of:
If you do the pose properly, without any rush, it will be safe and bring you many benefits in terms of health and your yoga practice.