Ardha Matsyendra Asana [The King of Fishes]
- Ardha अर्ध : half, semi | loc. ardhe adv. in the middle of.
- Matsyendra: king of the fish (matsya मत्स्य : fish; indra इन्द्र : ruler), a legendary teacher of yoga
Note: This posture is commonly called the half-spinal twist pose.
Step by Step
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, buttocks supported on a folded blanket. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling.
- Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together.
- Press the inner right foot very actively into the floor, release the right groin, and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone into the floor.
- You can turn your head in one of two directions: Continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at the right foot.
- With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, pushing the fingers against the floor to help. Twist a little more with every exhalation. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don't concentrate it in the lower back.
The difficulty is to keep the spine and hips straight. The buttocks must equally rest on the ground. The feeling is to be uncoiled around an axis that spread from the root to the tip of the skull.
In the version presented above, the position is more powerful because it strongly stimulates the root and requires initial focus to hold the position stable.
Breathing follows Visamavritti with a sequence of 4/16/8/0 if possible.
In the beginning, the position creates a certain feeling of suffocation or constraint due to the pressure on the abdominal and inter thoracic area. When the sensation of opening occurs, the breathing sequence should increase, going from 5/20/10/0 and up.
During the posture, one enunciates silently the mantras So [inhalation] and Ham [exhalation]. During the retention, the focus is on silence and on the heart chakra.
The root is contracted, and one attempts to develop an ascending sensation during the whole practice. The back slowly straightens up indicating lightness and power.
The length of practice is at least 4 minutes for each side.
With practice, this posture can last 10 minutes on each side, and the breathing can be pushed.