Lisa’s Asana 101 | Ardha Matsyendrasana

5 Minutes 4 Positive Change

Half Lord of the Fishes
Sanskrit: Ardha Matsyendrasana

Benefits: Stimulates the liver, stimulates the kidneys, stretches the shoulders, stretches the hips, stretches the neck, relieves fatigue, relieves sciatia, relieves backache.

Lisa Ware in Ardha Matsyendrasana

Lisa’s Asana 101

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


  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys
  • Stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck
  • Energizes the spine
  • Stimulates the digestive fire (agni) in the belly
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort, fatigue, sciatica, and backache
  • Therapeutic for asthma and infertility
  • Traditional texts say that Ardha Matsyendrasana increases appetite, destroys most deadly diseases, and awakens kundalini

Contraindications and Cautions

  • Back or spine injury: Only allow students to perform this pose if you are an experienced teacher

Beginner’s Tip

In this version of the pose, the opposite-side arm is wrapped around the outside of the raised-leg upper thigh. Be sure to sit up well on a blanket for support, can just wrap your arm around the raised leg and hug the thigh to your torso.

Deepen The Pose

For those with more flexibility in the hips and spine bring the upper left arm to the outside of the upper right thigh. With the legs in place, exhale and turn to the right. Lean slightly back, away from the upper thigh, and bend the left elbow, inhale lifting the ribs and exhale pressing the elbow against the outside of the upper right thigh. Then snuggle the torso in against the thigh, working the left upper arm further on to the outer leg until the back of the shoulder presses against the knee. Keep the elbow bent and the hand raised towards the ceiling, fingers dynamic. Lean into a slight upper-back backbend, firming the shoulder blades against the back, and lift the front torso through the top sternum.

Seated Twist Variations:

Step Across Straight Leg Bent Elbow on opposite knee

Wrap Elbow Same Side and Half Bind

Flow from Staff into the twist 3x then hold

Preparatory Poses

  • Baddha Konasana
  • Bharadvajasana
  • Janu Sirsasana
  • Supta Padangusthasana
  • Virasana

Follow-Up Poses

  • Paschimottanasana
  • Janu Sirsasana