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

Step-By-Step

  1. Sit on the ground with the legs straight out in front of you, hips supported on a creased blanket. Bend the knees, place your feet on the ground, and thereafter slide your left foot underneath the right leg to the outer of the right buttock. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step your right foot above your left leg and stand on the floor outside the left hip. The right knee would point directly up at the ceiling.

  2. Breathe out and twist towards the inside of your right thigh. Push your right hand against the floor just behind the right buttock, and set the left upper arm on the outer side of the right thigh close to the knee. Draw your front torso and inside right thigh tightly together.

  3. Push the inside right foot very energetically into the floor, free the right groin, and extend the front torso. Bend your upper torso back a little, against the shoulder blades, and carry on lengthening the tailbone into the floor.

  4. You can turn the head in any one of the two directions: maintain the twist of the torso by rotating it towards the right; or counter the twist of the torso by rotating it towards the left and looking above the left shoulder at the right foot.

  5. With breathing, rise a little more through your sternum, pressing your fingers against the floor to help. Turn a little more with every exhalation. It is important for you to be sure to distribute the twist uniformly all through the complete length of the spine; don’t concentrate it in your lower back. Stay in the similar pose for about thirty seconds to a minute, and then release with an exhalation. Return to the initial position, and repeat to the left for the same duration of time.

Anatomical Focus

  • Upper back

Therapeutic Applications

  • Sciatica

 Benefits

  • Therapeutic for infertility and asthma
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort, backache, sciatica and fatigue
  • Stimulates the digestive fire in the stomach
  • Energizes the spine
  • Stretches the neck, hips and shoulders
  • Stimulates the kidneys and liver
  • According to traditional sayings, Ardha Matsyendrasana destroys most deadly diseases, awakens kundalini and increases appetite.

 Contraindications and Cautions

  • Spine or back injury: Perform this pose only under the guidance of an experienced teacher.

►Beginner’s Tip

In this pose, the opposite-side arm is draped around the outside of the raised-leg upper thigh. This might not be practical and potentially injurious for beginners. Therefore, be sure that you sit up well on a blanket support and for the time being wrap your arm around the lifted leg and clasp the thigh to the torso.

Modifications and Props

Often it is difficult in the beginning to get the torso snug against your inside thigh. Position yourself a foot away from a wall, with your back leaned towards the wall; the accurate distance would depend upon the length of your arms. Breathe out into the twist and reach back for the wall. Your arm should be almost but not quite extended (it si important fro you to ensure that you are not sitting too close to the wall, which can jam the shoulder). Push the wall away and move your front torso against the thigh.

 Partnering

With the help of a partner, you can work the opposite-side elbow to the outer side of your upper thigh. Bring your legs in position as mentioned above and rotate to the right. Ask your partner to sit towards your right side, a foot away, facing you. Lengthen the left arm towards your partner, pressing the back of the arm against the top of your right thigh. He or she can hold the wrist and, simultaneously, press his/her feet against the outer side of your right thigh. Gently pulling with the hands and pushing with the feet, your partner can pull your left side of the torso out of the internal left groin even as you slide the back arm further along and push the left side fully against the top thigh. Keep in mind that your partner should not force you into a deeper twist, however is only helping you to extend and lengthen.

 Preparatory Poses

  • Baddha Konasana
  • Bharadvajasana
  • Janu Sirsasana
  • Supta Padangusthasana
  • Virasana

Follow-Up Poses

  • Paschimottanasana
  • Janu Sirsasana

Deepen The Pose

If you have the flexibility in the hips and spine you can bring the upper left arm to the outside of the upper right thigh. With the legs in place, exhale and turn to the right. Lean slightly back, away from the upper thigh, and bend the left elbow, pressing it against the outside of the upper right thigh. Then snuggle the torso in against the thigh and work the left upper arm further on to the outer leg until the back of the shoulder presses against the knee. Keep the elbow bent and the hand raised towards the ceiling. Lean into a slight upper-back backbend, firming the shoulder blades against the back, and lift the front torso through the top sternum.

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