Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes) – Overview

Lesson Overview

  • Features: Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes), and related poses such as Paripurna Matsyendrasana (Complete Lord of the Fishes)
  • Objective: Become knowledgeable about the pose and review detailed teaching considerations.
  • Description: Explain the Sanskrit naming; contraindications and cautions; associated benefits and typical effects; instructions and cues for setting up and practicing the pose; variations to meet particular intentions and needs; and more teaching considerations.

Ardha Matsyendrasana

ARE-dah MOT-see-en-DRAHS-anna

“ardha” = half

“Matsyendrasana” = Lord of the Fishes*

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

In Bikram Hot Yoga, called Spine Twisting Pose

Paripurna Matsyendrasana

“paripurna” = complete, full

Complete Lord of the Fishes Pose

* From a myth about a fish who learned yoga by listening as Lord Shiva explained yoga to Parvati. Shiva blessed the fish as Matsyendra, Lord of the Fishes. The fish then came on land, and took the form of a seated twist that allowed full absorption of the teachings.

Heart of Pose

  • Twist


Paripurna vs Ardha Matsyendrasana*
  • Paripurna Matsyendrasana – Lower leg in Half Lotus; bind to foot of top leg
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana – Other variations, including foot of lower leg under sit bones or beside hip, binding around upper knee to clasped hands, or binding foot
* Source: B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Yoga 1975 p 164
Ayurveda Perspective

Dr. David Frawley notes that the pose reduces vata, pitta and kapha while Joseph LePage says standing twists are more indicated for kapha.* (See also: Ayurveda: Doshas)

  • Vata: Moderate holding, focus on grounding, stillness and breath
  • Pitta: Any holding, focus on non-efforting, easy grounding and breath
  • Kapha: Any holding, focus on lifting and breathing (or use standing twists instead)
* Joseph LePage, Yoga Teachers’ Toolbox  link  2005 p 43, Dr. David Frawley, Yoga for Your Type 2001 p 182  link

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