The name Ardha Matsyendrasana is derived from Sanskrit where “Ardha” means “Half”, “Matsyendra” means “king of the fishes” where “Matsya” means fish and “Inder” means “ruler” and “Asana” means “Pose” or “Posture”.
Ardha Matsyendrasana is also called sitting half spinal twist as the spine is twisted and stretched in the sitting pose while practicing this asana.
When Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist is done after practicing all the other asanas, it attempts to stretch and relax the spine thereby calming, relaxing and strengthening the upper half of the body. And the lower half of the body is stretched with the way the legs are placed in this asana.
Full Spinal Twist position was the most commonly used meditation pose by the Sage Matsyendranath and so this pose is named after him. However, Matsyendrasana is a little difficult to practice, there is a simplified form called Half Spinal Twist came out of it which is also called Ardha Matsyendrasana.
Steps to do Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist
- To practice Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist, sit in Dandasana on the floor or on the yoga mat.
- Dandasana: Sit with your legs outstretched and the spine straight and relaxed.
- If you find it difficult to sit while keeping the spine straight, sit on a pillow or on a block or ease the tension in the back.
- Next step to do Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist involves lifting your right leg and placing it on the outside of left leg at the height of knee/besides the left knee.
- Then, bend the left knee and place the heel of left leg to touch the right hip on the side.
- If you find it difficult to stay in this position, keep the left leg straight instead of folding it.
- While inhaling, place your right arm behind your back and the take the left up and straight in such a way that it faces the ceiling. Then, bring your left arm and tuck it in you right knee and try to touch the left knee or the right foot with the palm of the lower arm.
- Now sitting in this position, bend your spine towards right in such a way that you feel stretch in the side and the spine.
- Make sure the sitting bones are touching the floor, the bones should not be raised but rested on the floor.
- While exhaling, twist more towards the right starting from the lower torso to chest and then neck and head.
- Your head will turn and come to the right side after the maximum stretch.
- The shoulders should not be dropped while practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist rather kept straight and leveled.
- Stay in this position for 5-8 breaths.
- Maintain breathing while practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist.
- While exhaling, straighten the spine and come to normal position.
- This completes one round of Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist. Practice the same 5-6 times on both the sides.
- To release the asana, straighten your head and neck to look straight and them straighten your spine then, bring your hands to rest alongside your body.
- Now straighten the left leg and then straighten the right leg to come to its original position.
- Come back and relax in Dandasana after practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist.
Benefits of Practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist
- Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist is beneficial in treating Spinal Disorders like Slipped disc and Sciatica.
- It helps in relieving pain and stiffness between the vertebrae and relaxes the spinal area.
- Sitting Half Spinal Twist also helps in increasing the elasticity of the spine, tones the spinal nerves and improves the blood circulation across the spinal area and improves the functioning of spinal cord.
- Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist is said to increase the appetite and stimulates the digestive fire in the belly.
- Ardha Matsyandrasana relieves menstrual pain as well.
- It regulates the secretion of bile and adrenaline as well.
- It massages the abdominal organs and regular practice can help relieve constipation.
- It increases the flexibility of the hip joint.
- Increases the circulation of blood to the pelvic region and therefore providing nutrients and oxygen, improving the health of the reproductive organs as well as the urinary system.
- Yet another benefit of Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist is that it helps prevent urinary tract disorders.
- Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist is also beneficial for people with round/rolled shoulders.
Precautions While Practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist
- Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist should not be practiced by pregnant women since it twists the abdomen and may put pressure on the abdomen.
- It should also not be practiced by females on their periods.
- People who have had any heart, abdomen or any brain surgeries should not practice Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist.
- People who are suffering from hernia or have peptic ulcers should not practice Sitting Half Spinal Twist yoga pose.
- People with mild slipped disc will benefits from practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana and those who have major slipped disc should not practice this asana at all.
Tips While Practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist
- Do not over exert your body while practicing Sitting Half Spinal Twist yoga pose. Stretch as far as your body allows. Over twisting and stretching may cause damage to the spine.
- This asana may be held for only a short time by beginners but should gradually be held up to 1-2 minutes. Gradually with practice it can be held for up to 5 minutes on each side.
- If you want to practice advanced version of Ardha Matsyendrasana, you can wrap the right arm under the left leg and behind the body while practicing.
- With regular practice of Ardha Matsyendrasana or Sitting Half Spinal Twist for some time Matsyendrasana can be practiced.