Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sanskrit: अर्धमत्स्येन्द्रासन), Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, Half Spinal Twist Pose or Vakrasana is an asana that usually appears as a seated spinal twist with many variations, and is one of the twelve basic asanas in many systems of Hatha Yoga.
This asana is named after the great yogi Matsyendranath (9th century Yoga guru who founded Hatha Yoga).
The name comes from the Sanskrit words ardha meaning “half“, matsya meaning “fish“, eendra meaning “king“, and asana (आसन ) meaning “posture” or “seat“.
The name Vakrasana comes from the Sanskrit “Vakra” (‘twisted or reverse‘).
This is one of the few poses in the Basic Session that rotates the spine. Most bend the spinal column either backward or forward, but to become truly flexible it must be twisted laterally as well. The movement also tones the spinal nerves and ligaments, and improves the digestion. The Half-Spinal Twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana, taught here, has similar benefits, and prepares the body for the Full Pose (Sukhasana).
Keep your spine erect and your shoulders level in the position and breaths steadily, twisting a little more each time you exhale. Twist first to the left, as below, then repeat the sequence twisting to the right.
Ardha Matsyendrasana Pose Steps :
- Kneel down with your legs together, resting on your heels.
- Then sit to the right of your feet as illustrated below.
- Lift your left leg over your right, placing the foot against the outside of the right knee. Bring your right heel in close to your buttocks. Keep the spine erect.
- Stretch your arms out to the sides at shoulder level, and twist around to the left.
- Now bring the right arm down on the outside of the left knee and hold the left foot in the right hand, placing your left hand on the floor behind you. Exhaling, twist as far as possible to the left. Look over the left shoulder.
Ardha Matsyendrasana Benefits and Precautions :
- Increase hips and spine flexibility.
- Removes the wastes and improves digestion
- Stimulate heart, kidneys, liver, spleen and lungs.
- Open the neck, hips and shoulders.
- Relieve fatigue, sciatica, backache and menstrual discomfort.
- Clean the internal organs.
- Releases excess toxins and heat from tissues and organs.
- Energizes and stretches the backbone.
- Should be avoided during pregnancy and menstruation due to the strong twist in the abdomen.
- People with Heart, abdominal or brain surgeries should not practice this asana.
- Care should be taken for those with peptic ulcer or hernia.
- Those with severe spinal problems should avoid and those with mild slipped disc can benefit but in severe cases it should be avoided.