Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana) - Yoga Journal

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Half Lord of the Fishes pose energizes the spine and stimulates the digestive fire.

How to Say Ardha Matsyendrasana in Sanskrit

(ARE-dah MOT-see-en-DRAHS-anna)
ardha = half · Matsyendra = king of the fish (matsya = fish indra = ruler), a legendary teacher of yoga

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose Step-by-Step Instructions

**NEED to add primary image - one in dropbox was incorrect**

  1. Begin seated with Gomukhasanalegs, right knee on top
  2. Root down with the sitting bones to rebound up the length of the spine
  3. Imagine a central axis running through the torso from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head
  4. With each inhale emphasize both the length and the integrity of this axis; the column is straight and is not tilting or curving off to one side or another
  5. Keeping the left leg in its current position, place the right foot to the outside of the left knee
  6. Root down with the right big toe mound while simultaneously descending the right outer hip
  7. Inhale, take the left arm to the ceiling
  8. Exhale, hook the left elbow to the outside of the right knee, taking the right hand to the floor to the outside of the right hip
  9. Notice how the right knee tends to buckle into the midline; instead, press it to the right to create more resistance for the left elbow to work against
  10. Inhale, find any amount more length along the central axis; exhale, revolve around that length
  11. Take the gaze to the right, looking past the right shoulder
  12. Make sure not to rely upon the easy mobility of the neck
  13. Instead, find the movement first in the mid-upper back, so that the rotation in the cervical spine is a continuation of, rather than a substitution for, the rotation in the thoracic
  14. Continue the essential pattern of breath; use inhales to lengthen and exhales to twist any amount more
  15. Hold for 8-10 breaths, then release back to center and repeat on the other side


Half Lord of the Fishes Pose Cues

Contraindications and Cautions of Half Lord of the Fishes Pose Cues

  • Caution or modify if you have any knee pain, knee injuries, knee arthritis, knee replacement, or other knee limitations.
  • Caution or modify if you have hip pain, hip arthritis, or a hip replacement
  • Avoid or modify if you have acute back pain or injuries, including surgeries, osteoporosis, disc bulging or herniation, arthritis, or SI (sacroiliac) pain
  • Transition slowly in and out of the pose

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Benefits of Half Lord of the Fishes

  • Improves postural and body awareness
  • Improves posture and counteracts the effects of sitting and computer work
  • Can help stimulate proper digestion by facilitating movement through the digestive tract (peristalsis)
  • May help relieve constipation through the benefits of movement and stimulation of the lower abdominal area
  • Can help relieve bloating and gas
  • Strengthens your core and particularly muscles supporting your spine
  • Stretches around your back, outer thighs (abductors), buttocks (gluteals), and front of your thighs (quadriceps)

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3 Ways to Modify Half Lord of the Fishes 

1. Gentle Half Lord of the Fishes

Instead of bringing your elbow to your thigh, try simply wrapping your arm comfortably around you knee

2. Half Lord of the Fishes with Leg out

Try with your bottom leg extended rather than flexed

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3. Chair Half Lord of the Fishes

Try seated in a chair with your legs crossed

Twist toward the top leg

Focus on lengthening your spine, grabbing onto the side of the chair, armrest (if it has one), or back of the chair

Stay for several breaths and then repeat on the other side

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Preparatory Poses for Half Lord of the Fishes

Follow-up Poses After Half Lord of the Fishes


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