Half Twist Pose

Ardha Matsyendrasana


  • Increase your spinal flexibility and range of motion.
  • Expands your chest and shoulders.
  • Relieves thoracic or mid back spinal tension.
  • Strengthens your abdominal oblique muscles.
  • Stretches your hip rotators and hip.
  • Traditionally thought to massage your abdominal organs, detoxify your liver and kidneys, and stimulate digestive fire.
  • Pose

  • Cautions

  • Modifications

  • Lumbar Disc Disorders - Keep your natural curve in the low back and avoid rounding.
  • Neck problems - Gaze straight ahead with your head centered on your body
  • Shoulder problems - Do not take the bind of the arms behind the back as this requires a great deal of inward rotation and extension.
  • Knee problems - Practice the straight leg version below, avoiding crossing the knee underneath you.
  • Binding the Arms – An advanced variation of the arm position is to move into a bind behind your back. When entering into the twist, keeping the spine tall, try to get your armpit close to the thigh. From the hand in stop sign, rotate at your shoulder so that the hand moves closer to the floor. Hinging in the elbow, weave your right arm through the bent left leg, bringing the back of your hand onto the torso. With your left arm, create the same inward rotation at the shoulder, bringing the hand to connect with your right fingers, or grasp the right wrist, behind your back. Stay broad across the collarbones, and tall through your spine.
  • Straight leg – You may also practice this pose with the underside of your leg straight. In the version above, your right leg would extend out, toes pointing up, and your left foot would cross over the thigh.
  • If you find you are tipping over, or rounding through your lower spine, you may take some height underneath the sitting bones. Arrange a foam brick or a blanket so that your sitting bones are on the edge, the pelvis is tipping forward, and you maintain your lumbar / low back curve.
  • If your right elbow does not quite reach the outside of the thigh, you may keep your arm straight, bringing the forearm in contact with the thigh.

Article written by Dr. Robin Armstrong:Dr. Robin Armstrong is a Vancouver chiropractor and yoga instructor. Robin blends her western knowledge gained from her experience as a chiropractor, with the ancient eastern knowledge passed through generations of yoga teachers. Robin’s classes emphasize safety, breath, alignment, and movement, while teaching students ways to strengthen and lengthen their bodies to handle the stresses of our modern lifestyle. If you are coming to her as a patient, expect to be prescribed yoga! Learn more about Dr. Armstrong at www.stayactive.ca

  • Images
  • Step-by-step

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

  1. Begin by sitting on the floor with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Slide your left foot underneath your right leg so that your left foot slides to the outer edge of your right hip. 
  3. Step the right foot across the left bent knee so that the foot stands on the outside of the thight and try to keep both siiting bones in contact with the eath.
  4. Lean back with your right hand and inhale your left arm overhead, creating space in the spine and torso.
  5. On an exhale, twist to the right bringing your left ebow to outside of your right thigh, keeping your hand in a stop sign position.
  6. Gaze over your right shoulder with your head held high.
  7. With every inhale, get a little taller through your spine and with every exhale, twist a little deeper.
  8. Be mindful of your right hand on the floor and depending on the length of your arms and the height of your torso, your palm is either on the floor or your hand has spider fingers on the mat.
  9. Be aware that you are not collapsing into the right hand.
  10. Breathe slowly and stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  11. To exit, inhale to look forward, and as exhale release the twist.
  12. Reverse your legs and repeat twisting to the opposite side.
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shannons1224, posted on April 2, 2013

feels so great on my back! Love this pose

annacreasy, posted on August 31, 2012

Hi csimcox13,
I have sent through some information for you in email. Please let us know if it helped.

csimcox13, posted on August 30, 2012

cannot get one video to open, please provide support

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