The Ardha Matsyendrasana — also known as the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose — is a spinal twist that benefits whoever does the pose. Here’s the best part — it’s a beginner pose!
As a beginner-friendly pose, Ardha Matsyendrasana is easy to perform. It’s also one of the safest yoga poses you can do.
The Half Lord of the Fishes Pose provides several benefits, ranging from better proprioception to improved mobility. As a bonus, this spinal twist improves digestion and circulation.
In short, it’s the easy pose for many medical maladies. Find out more about the benefits of the Ardha Matsyendrasana and how to perform it safely!
What’s the Ardha Matsyendrasana?
The Ardha Matsyendrasana is a seated spinal twist. It’s capable of restoring circulation and lengthening the lower spinal segment.
Students and yogis must begin this pose in a seated position on the floor. With one leg crossed over the other, the person raises the knee of the top leg, allowing their sole to make contact with the ground.
After raising the knee and planting the sole firmly on the ground, the student must fold the other leg towards the hip. From here, the student faces the side of the top leg.
The student then holds the position by pushing on the top knee with the elbow. This creates a twisting sensation on the mid and lower back.
What Are the Benefits Lord of the Fishes Pose?
As mentioned earlier, the pose is excellent for digestive, circulatory, and spinal health. Besides these health benefits, the pose provides neuromuscular benefits like improved body awareness.
Let’s get into each in greater detail:
The Half Lord of the Fishes Pose is a seated twist that stimulates peristaltic movement. Peristaltic movement is the wavy motions of the intestines that allow food to pass.
With improved peristaltic movement comes constipation relief. This benefit makes the Ardha Matsyendrasana an excellent pose for anyone looking for better digestive health.
Better Outer Hip Flexibility
The pose requires students to place one leg over the other. This position lengthens and stretches the outer hips. The lengthening benefits increase when the student pushes the top knee with the elbow and holds the pose.
The lower spine is the site of much compression. Over time, the accumulated tension of the lower spine creates tightness in the lower back. Prolonged sitting and inactivity exacerbate spinal compression greatly.
The Ardha Matsyendrasana pose is a beginner-friendly way of decompressing the spine. The twisting motion helps alleviate pressure from the lower vertebral discs. For the best results, students must perform the Half Lord of the Fishes pose on both sides.
Proprioception — bodily awareness — improves with the Ardha Matsyendrasana pose. Throughout each position, the student breathes and focuses on transitions. The practice of doing this and holding the final position develops a visceral sense of body position and spinal alignment.
How To Perform the Ardha Matsyendrasana Correctly and Safely
Like many yoga poses, the Ardha Matsyendrasana is a link in a chain of Asanas. In other words, there are preparatory poses before one gets into the Ardha Matsyendrasana. Beyond this pose, students may remain static or proceed to follow-up poses.
Students must move through each pose in the proper sequence to get the most benefits. Here are the steps to performing the Ardha Matsyendrasana and the poses that come after it:
1. Warm Up the Spine With the Cat-Cow Pose (Marjariasana-Bitilasana)
The Cat-Cow pose is a tabletop stretch that primes the spine for yoga poses. Begin by getting on all fours. Then assume the Cow Pose by retracting the shoulder blades and straightening the back.
Afterward, get into the Cat Pose by curling the lower back and bringing the shoulders inward.
2. Prep the Spine for Twisting With the Standing Spinal Twist Pose (Katichakrasana)
After the Cat-Cow Pose, perform the Katichakrasana Pose by standing up and extending both hands forward. From here, twist to one side and hold for a few seconds. Repeat this step with the other side.
Twist as far as you can tolerate. Remember to inhale during the twist. Exhale at the end of the pose.
3. Perform the Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Sit on the floor with both feet parallel. Inhale, then bend forward. Try to get the forehead to touch the knee.
Hold the position for three seconds, then return to the seated portion of the pose. Repeat Paschimottanasana 10 times, then proceed to Ardha Matsyendrasana.
4. Perform Ardha Matsyendrasana
In the seated pose, place the leg over the other. The top leg’s foot must touch the ground. The resulting position should be one where the top leg’s knee is vertical or almost vertical.
Then twist to the side of the top leg and push the knee farther towards the midline with your elbow. Hold the position and breath deeply. Repeat the same steps with the other leg.
5. Follow Up With the Butterfly Pose (Badhakonasana)
The Ardha Matsyendrasana stretches the adductor muscles of the hips. To target the abductors, the Butterfly Pose is the perfect follow-up pose.
While sitting, bring the feet as close to the groin as possible. From here, inhale and gently press your knees to the ground. Hold the knees down and continue to take deep breaths.
To relax, release the knees and bring the feet forward again.
The Ardha Matsyendrasana-to-Badhakonasana as an Alternative to the Frog Pose
The Frog Pose is a series of poses in yoga that target the abductor muscles. Students and yogis perform the Frog Pose by getting on all fours and spreading their knees as wide as possible.
The position can be uncomfortable for beginners since they need sufficient hip mobility to get the most out of the pose. The Ardha Matsyendrasana-to-Badhakonasana is a more beginner-friendly sequence that provides similar all-around mobility benefits and more.
Learn the Ardha Matsyendrasana and Many Other Poses in Sacramento
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