“Ardha” means half. Matsya means fish. According to yogic legend, Matsyendra (King of Fish) was a yogi who learned the mysteries of hatha yoga by listening to Shiva and established the Natha Siddha (Lord of superhuman powers) tradition.
Benefits of Ardha Matsyendrasana
- Creates greater flexibility in the gluteal muscles and deep rotator muscles of the hips.
- Assists with healthy digestion and elimination by massaging the internal organs.
- Stimulates the lymph nodes and immune system.
- People suffering from knee, hip, pelvic, low back or ankle pain should practice half fish pose with caution and begin with modifications.
- Start in a seated cross-legged pose with your right shin in front of your left. Bring the sole of the right foot to the floor outside the left knee as you bring the left heel to touch the right hip.
- Check that the sit bones are in contact with the earth.
- If both sit bones are not in contact with the earth, bring your left leg straight out in front of you. The vertebrae need to be stacked in order to twist safely. If one sit bone is lifted, the spine will be side bending and this is not ideal.
- Keep your shoulders and chin parallel to the floor.
- Place the fingertips of your right hand on the floor behind your tail bone. Use the hand and arm as a prop to help you lengthen up through the spine.
- Place your left hand on your right knee.
- Avoid placing your elbow or forearm above your right knee (instead of your left hand), especially if it causes you to bend in your torso.
- Initiate the twist from your abdominals as you rotate toward the right.
- Make sure to stack the vertebrae as you twist with your chin and shoulders level.
- Twist from the waist, using your oblique abdominals.
- Feel your heart lifting on each inhalation and enjoy a sense of expansion on all sides of your body.
- Avoid arching and twisting or rounding the spine and twisting.
- Bring your torso back to the centre and return to a simple cross legged pose.