Pose Directory > STANDING

Half Lord of the Fishes pose

Ardha Matsyendrasana



Begin in a seated position with the legs stretched out in front. Bend the right leg and bring the foot across and to the outside of the left knee. Now bend the left leg, drawing that foot towards the outside of the right hip. Inhale to lift and turn the torso, bringing the left elbow to the outside of the knee and the right hand behind the back. At the same time turn head and eye gaze to look over the right shoulder. On the exhale press the left elbow against the right knee. To complete the pose, bend the left arm and open the palm. Breathe deeply and slowly for the duration of the pose. To come out the pose, release the left arm, inhale back to centre and on the exhale stretch the legs back to the start position. Repeat the other side.

Check out this other article also… 3 tips for teaching the Half Lord of the Fishes (Ardha Matsyendrasana)





To make the twisting movement, the entire ribcage lifts – making space for the torso to pivot like a puppet on a string or an action doll with moveable parts. In Kundalini yoga, the spine is imagined as a central axis and the twisting movement is a spiraling of energy around it like red stripes swirling around a barber’s pole.


To prepare for the twist, balance and ground the sit bones. Check the right foot is flat to the ground with the toes pointing to the front of the mat and the knee upright. The outside of the left foot should be grounded with the little toe pressing into the mat. Inhale to lengthen the spine and lift the torso to make space for the turning movement. The back muscles and belly remain relaxed as the right arm and shoulder, torso and finally head rotate towards the right side. Now, exhale and bend the left elbow, pressing it against the outside of the right knee. The elbow acts as a lever for the turning the torso and keeping a straight back – not slumping. The left hand is open with fingers spread and extended. The twist is supported by the right arm and hand. The hand should be in line with the base of the spine. The right arm is straight and be used to support the back upright.

  • Stretches and tones back and shoulder muscles
  • Lengthens and energises spine
  • Massages and tones abdominals
  • Relieves digestive problems
  • Aids function of liver, kidney and adrenal glands
  • Back and/or shoulders curling forward – sit on block or folded blanket to help make space for twist
  • Knee or foot off the floor – place blanket or folded mat underneath
  • Slumped posture – place a block or folded mat under hand near base of spine
  • Pregnancy
  • Ulcer, hernia, hyperthyroidism
  • Slipped disc
  • Spine and back injuries
  • Place blanket, folded mat or block under seat to help lift torso for twist
  • Place block behind seat at base of spine to support back in twist and provide lift for stiff shoulders or arms
  • Place blanket or folded mat to protect sore ankle or knee in the air
  • In case of neck issues, keep head and neck in line with torso – look to side
  • For knee injury, underneath leg remains straight, instead of bring elbow to outside of bent leg knee, hold shin just below knee cap of top leg to turn
  • Ardha Matsyendra ll- Move into the pose as described above – Instead of bending the arm, extend it along outside of top leg – holding the ankle.. To take this further externally rotate shoulder bringing hands to bind behind the back.
  • Full Lord of the Fishes (Paripura Matsyendra) – Begin in start position as described above. Bring the underneath foot to rest on thigh as in ½ lotus – rotate arm around, wrapping it behind the back to hold the toe of same foot.
  • Knee-to-chest pose (apasana)
  • Seated forward fold (paschimottasana)
  • Tailors pose (badda konasana)
  • Table top (crab)

Written By: Brenda Hamlet RYT 200

Brenda teaches yoga in Health & Fitness Centres and in small corporate settings across the city of Oxford, England. More information about Brenda can be found at www.pret-a-yoga.com.



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