Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana): Step by Step

Half Lord of the Fishes pose energizes the spine and stimulates the digestive fire.

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Ardha Matsyendrasana (ARE-dah MOT-see-en-DRAHS-anna)
ardha = half · Matsyendra = king of the fish (matsya = fish indra = ruler), a legendary teacher of yoga

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, buttocks supported on a folded blanket. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling.

Step 2

Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together.

Step 3

Press the inner right foot very actively into the floor, release the right groin, and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone into the floor.

Step 4

You can turn your head in one of two directions: Continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at the right foot.

Step 5

With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, pushing the fingers against the floor to help. Twist a little more with every exhalation. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don’t concentrate it in the lower back. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time. Watch a video demonstration of this pose.

 

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name

Ardha Matsyendrasana

Pose Level

1

Contraindications and Cautions

  • Back or spine injury: Perform this pose only with the supervision of an experienced teacher.

Beginner’s Tip

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.

Benefits

  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck
  • Energizes the spine
  • Stimulates the digestive fire in the belly
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort, fatigue, sciatica, and backache
  • Therapeutic for asthma and infertility
  • Traditional texts say that Ardha Matsyendrasana increases appetite, destroys most deadly diseases, and awakens kundalini.