Arda Matsyendrasana – Half fish twist pose

School of Yoga explains arda-matsyendrasana (Half fish twist pose)

Hatha Yoga Pradeepika on matsyendrasana:

Ch1 v (26) matsyendrasana – Place right foot at the base of the left thigh and left foot outside the folded right knee. Catch the left foot with the right hand and turning around, catch the left foot with the right hand around the back. This is called matsendrasana

Ch1 v(27) This matsendrasana fans gastric fire and is a weapon which destroys all terrible diseases of the body. With daily practice it arouses the kundalini and stops wastage of the moon in men.

School of Yoga explains – arda-matsyendrasana technique: (Should be learned under supervision)

arda matsyendrasana

Yogacharya Sundaram demonstrating Arda matsyendrasana

  • Sthithi (starting) position: Sit upright with legs stretched outwards.
  • Bend forward, hold the left foot and draw it so that the left heel is touching the perineum below the genitals. Men should carefully lift the scrotum away from harm. Ensure that heel is securely anchored on the perineum and does not shift.
  • Lift right leg over left thigh and plant sole of right foot as close as possible to the left hip joint.
  • Tuck right knee under the left armpit. The feet must not sway when torso twists.
  • Try to catch right knee with left hand.
  • Twist torso around and try to catch right ankle with the right hand. Turn face in the direction of the twist.
  • Maintain shallow breathing. Hold for 10 counts. Return to sthithi (starting) position.
  • Repeat asana in the opposite direction in the same manner, so the spines twists in the opposite direction and balances the tension in the spine.
  • Repeat once in both directions.
  • The drishti (gaze) recommended is oordva drishti (open space gaze).

School of Yoga explains – arda-matsyendrasana benefits 

  • The exercise is excellent for retaining spinal curvature. Continuous exercise will prevent backache and hip ailments. As a result, this revitalises the shoulder blades and back muscles. It helps increasing flexibility of the body.
  • This exercise also tones up the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system by increasing blood supply to the muscles holding individual vertebrae and nerve roots.
  • The action of twisting the torso rejuvenates all the organs associated with digestion; the stomach, pancreas, liver and intestines. It optimises production of enzymes and absorption of nutrition. It also forces toxins out, thereby cleaning up the digestive system. This exercise is good for indigestion, constipation, diabetes, and other stomach ailments.
  • It improves functioning of the reproductive organs and assists women in reduction of menstrual discomfort and cramps.

School of Yoga explains – arda-matsyendrasana contraindications:

  • If you have any form of back ache, do not attempt this asana without adequate supervision and support.
  • People with cardiac problems, lower back problems and circulatory disorders should not attempt this asana without first consulting a physician.
  • People with hernia etc should avoid this asana.
  • This asana should not be practiced during menstruation or pregnancy.

Some noteworthy points on arda-matsyendrasana:

Internal Links: Dharma (conditioning), Stress and Situational Awareness, Prana, Asana overview 1, Asana Overview 2, Asana Focus or gazing, PranayamaHatha Yoga Pradeepika

External Links: Prana, Chakra, Pancha Tattva, Pancha Prana, Pancha Kosha, Nadi

  • This asana is considered to be one of the 32 most important asanas by all ancient texts.
  • The spine consists of 3 major areas; the cervical region or neck, thoracic/ dorsal or upper back and lumbar/ lower back put together by a total of 24 bones, called vertebrae. Here, discs of cartilage separate these vertebrae, absorbing shock and allowing the spine to flex and bend. The spine carries the spinal chord, a critical component of the central nervous system. Therefore, to stay healthy, the spine need to be exercised in the forward, backward, sideways directions and twisted as shown above.
  • The extreme twisting of torso also results in the stretching and pushing of the stomach and intestines. Therefore, after performing this asana, don’t be surprised if there is a bout of flatulence and burping. This is just the release of air which is trapped in the alimentary canal which is forced out by the asana.
Arda Masyendrasana - stage 1

Arda Masyendrasana – stage 1

Editor at School Of Yoga
School Of Yoga is a single point resource for all aspects of Classical Yoga practise. We try to achieve this by placing Yoga's traditional methodology in front of the reader and eliciting his or her experience. We value everyone's Yoga experience and would like you to share and enrich other practitioners so that everyone benefits.
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