Ardha Matsyendrasana Lateral twists to help make your spine more pliant edit button Edit

A.D Pradeep Kumar | calendar 03 March 2024 | 70

The Financial Express on Sunday April 9 , 2000

The Ardha Matsyendrasana or the partial Matsyendra pose completes the requisite quota of exercises for the spine by incorporating lateral twists of the spinal column.

While Vakrasana does not give the spine a full twist, Ardha Matsyendrasana does. Though it is a difficult posture, if you practise Vakrasana daily, your body will be supple enough to bear the strain of the Ardha Matsyendrasana. Ardha means half. So, this asana is half of the Poorna Matsyendrasana. This asana takes its name from Rishi or Yogi Matsendra who is said to have first taught this to the students of Hatha Yoga.


  • Sit on the mat. Bend the left leg, place the left foot besides the right hip
  • Place the right foot outside the left knee keeping the foot flat on the floor
  • Bring the left arm and place outside the right knee, the elbow on the knee, grasping the right foot with the left hand
  • Place the right arm behind the back
  • While exhaling for three seconds, twist your trunk towards the right
  • Hold this position for six seconds
  • Inhale, return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Do two rounds like this
  • The breathing and time should be adjusted as follows:
  • lateral twist to either side, exhalation, three seconds maintain pose, six seconds return to starting position inhalation, three seconds.
  • Benefits

    The physiological advantages of this exercise are very obvious. It is designed to complement the effects of previous postures through the extreme left and right twisting of the spine.

    It is recognised that such lateral movements of the spine possess mechanical advantages such as the removal of the lateral curvature of the spine, improvement in the replacements of the internal organs and joints of the pelvic region and similar other defects.

    Every vertebra is rotated on both sides. The ligaments that are attached to the. vertebrae receive a rich supply of blood. All the spinal nerves are toned up.

    Through the very deep pressure built up by the asana, heightened by the complete and forced expiration of breath, the circulation of blood in the abdominal zone is considerably increased.

    Further, the alternate and reverse stretching tend to massage and exercise all the important deep and superficial muscles of the spine and thus also increase the spinal and circulatory activities.

    When done with ease and rhythm, the Ardha Matsyendrasana loosens up the spinal articulations, adjusts any subluxations of the vertebrae and thereby relieves the spinal nerves from the pressure that results from faulty posture habits.

    The Ardha Matsyendrasana keeps the spine elastic and massages the abdominal organs. It helps in curing lumbago and muscular rheumatism. It tones the spinal nerve roots and sympathetic system. This is also a good asana for constipation and dyspepsia. This asana stimulates the pancreas, liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach and ascending and descending colons.

    Regular practice of this asana increases digestive efficiency. The Ardha Matsyendrasana is also useful in the treatment of diabetes and urinary problems. It tones the nerve roots and adjusts and realigns the vertebral column. The back muscles are pulled and stretched in different directions than usual and this relieves them of tension. It is a powerful asana and its vitalising effects can be felt quickly. For maintaining tone and pliancy of the spine, the Ardha Matsyendrasana should be practised regularly. Patience and perseverance bring success in practising this posture accurately.


    Since it removes rigidity and increases flexibility, the Ardha Matsyendrasana is grouped under the bhava, Vairagya. Symbolically, our fixed ideas and prejudices need to be tempered with flexibility.

    In the daily course of performing asanas, we have to bring in the four bhavas of Dharma, Jnana, Vairagya and Aishwarya. When we are doing asanas like Chakrasana, we bring in the attitude of Aishwarya or confidence and self-esteem, the qualities all successful people are endowed with.

    To achieve Aishwarya, one should have Vairagya or objectivity, a relaxed attitude to cope with life's problems and this can be inculcated while doing asanas like the Yogamudra.

    To achieve Vairagya, one must have Jnana, right knowledge, which consists of coordination between the body and the mind, which is inculcated while doing asanas like Talasana and Konasana.

    One cannot achieve Jnana unless one follows Dharma, which includes observing Yamas and Niyamas, having faith, quietude and discipline, which we try to inculcate while doing meditative postures like the Sukhasana.

    Inculcating these bhavas would help in the integrated development of the personality.


    Severe arthritis, cardiac problems, abdominal injuries, hernia and pregnancy.

    (This article is based on the principles advocated by The Yoga Institute, Santacruz, Mumbai)