Including twists in your yoga practice will help you to find ease, balance, and serenity in all areas of your life. Twisting and lengthening your spine can make you feel re-energized and revitalized. Squeezing out toxins from your abdominal organs will cleanse and refresh you, inside and out. Practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana on a regular basis will keep you feeling young, vital, and healthy (and who doesn’t want that)!!
1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your right foot under your left leg to the outside of your left hip. Lay the outside of the right leg on the floor. Step the left foot over the right leg and stand it on the floor outside your right hip. The left knee will point directly upwards.
2. Exhale and twist toward the inside of the left thigh. Press the left hand against the floor just behind your left glute, and set your right upper arm on the outside of your left thigh near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner left thigh snugly together.
3. Press the inner left foot very actively into the floor, release the left groin, and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone downward.
4. You can turn your head in one of two directions: Continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the left; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it right and looking over the right shoulder at the left foot.
5. With every inhale lift a little more through the sternum, pushing the fingers against the floor to help. Twist a little more with every exhale. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don’t concentrate it in the lower back. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhale, return to the starting position, and repeat to the right for the same length of time.
– Strengthening the spine not only helps in strengthening of the nervous system, but also results in improved flexibility and agility.
– Relief from diarrhea and constipation
– Help in calming the brain and de-stressing
– Stimulation of liver and kidneys
– Stretching of spine and shoulders
– Improvement in digestion
– Strengthening of the groin and muscles of the legs
– Relief from sciatica, lower back pain and neck pain
-Improvement of the overall posture
– Massage of the internal organs
Modifications & Variations:
Ardha Matsyendrasana will increase spinal flexibility, improve digestion, and calm your mind. This pose is suitable for most beginners, but only go as deeply into the twist as it feels safe. Try these simple changes to find a variation that works best for you:
– If you are uncomfortable sitting flat on the floor, prop yourself up on a folded, firm blanket or extra yoga mat.
– Those with less flexibility in the hips can keep the bottom leg extended.
– If it is difficult to place your opposite-side elbow to the outside of your raised leg, hug the thigh with your hands, instead. In time, your flexibility will increase and you will be able to wrap your entire arm around your thigh. Once that is comfortable, you will be able to place your elbow to the outside of the knee in the full version of the pose.
– For variety in the neck stretch, you can either turn your head in the direction of the twist, or in the opposite direction.
Practicing Ardha Matsyendrasana is a great way to detoxify and soothe your entire body. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
– Let the back of your neck be soft. Balance your head gently over your spine. Never lead the twist with your head. Instead, let your head be the last part of your body to turn.
– Keep your belly soft throughout the twist.
– Keep your glutes grounded throughout the pose.
– Never rush or force the pose. Move with your breath. Inhale to lengthen your spine, and exhale to gently rotate deeper.
– Twist to the right first. Doing so will place pressure on the ascending colon. Twisting to the left places pressure on the descending colon. This right-left order mimics the flow of digestion and helps improve detoxification. Reversing the sequence and pressing on the descending colon first may cause aggravation, constipation, bloating, and intestinal discomfort.
* Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga *