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Half Fish Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Ardha Matsyendrasana, also known as the Half Fish Pose. This incredible yoga pose is not only a feast for your body but also a treat for your soul. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or just starting your journey, the Half Fish Pose offers a multitude of benefits that cater to both physical and spiritual well-being. So, roll out your mat, take a deep breath, and let’s embark on this journey together.

Half Fish Pose

Half Fish Pose, or Ardha Matsyendrasana, is a seated spinal twist that promotes flexibility, balance, and detoxification. Named after the sage Matsyendra, who is believed to have been a student of the god Shiva, this pose is renowned for its ability to wring out tension and stimulate internal organs. It’s a pose that harmonizes the mind and body, providing a deep sense of relaxation and rejuvenation.

The name Ardha Matsyendrasana is derived from Sanskrit:

  • Ardha means "half."

  • Matsya means "fish."

  • Indra means "lord" or "king."

  • Asana means "pose."

Together, they form "Half Lord of the Fishes Pose," a nod to the sage Matsyendra. This pose symbolizes the wisdom and depth of the ocean, reflecting the inner journey we embark on when practicing yoga.

Ardha Matsyendrasana is pronounced as ARD-ha MATT-see-en-DRAH-sah-nuh. Take your time to let the words roll off your tongue, embracing the ancient language that connects us to the roots of yoga.

Anatomy of Half Fish Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Ardha Matsyendrasana primarily targets the spine, making it more flexible and supple.

Here’s a breakdown of the anatomical focus:

  • Spine: Twisting motion increases flexibility and alignment.

  • Hips: Opening and stretching the outer hips.

  • Shoulders: Involved in the twist, enhancing flexibility.

  • Abdominal muscles: Engaged to support the twist, aiding in digestion.

  • Chest: Opens up, improving respiratory function.

Half Fish Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana): Steps and Instructions

  1. Start in Dandasana (Staff Pose): Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight in front of you. Keep your spine erect.

  2. Bend your right knee: Place your right foot on the outside of your left thigh. The sole should be flat on the ground.

  3. Bend your left knee: Fold your left leg under your right buttock, or keep it straight if this is too intense.

  4. Inhale and lengthen your spine: Sit up tall, reaching the crown of your head towards the ceiling.

  5. Exhale and twist: Rotate your torso to the right, placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Your right hand can be placed behind you for support.

  6. Gaze over your right shoulder: Keep your neck in line with your spine.

  7. Hold the pose: Maintain the twist for several breaths, deepening with each exhale.

  8. Release and repeat: Slowly come back to the center and repeat on the opposite side.

Half Fish Pose

When to Do It

Half Fish Pose can be practiced at any time of the day. However, it is particularly beneficial:

  • In the morning awaken your spine and start the day with vitality.

  • In the evening to relieve tension and detoxify after a long day.

Preparatory Poses

Before attempting Ardha Matsyendrasana, prepare your body with these poses:

  • Sukhasana (Easy Pose)

  • Marjaryasana-Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Pose)

  • Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

  • Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose)

Follow-Up Poses

After Half Fish Pose, enhance your practice with:

  • Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

  • Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

  • Savasana (Corpse Pose) for deep relaxation


Ardha Matsyendrasana is closely linked with the Manipura Chakra (Solar Plexus Chakra). Located around the navel, this chakra is the center of personal power, confidence, and vitality. Practicing this pose helps to activate and balance the Manipura Chakra, promoting inner strength and self-assurance.

Manipura Chakra

Mantra for This Pose

Chanting a mantra while holding the pose can deepen your experience. It means "I bow to Shiva," acknowledging the divine consciousness within.

“Om Namah Shivaya”

Alignment Cues

  • Keep your spine long and straight.

  • Ground through both sitting bones evenly.

  • Engage your core to support the twist.

  • Avoid collapsing your chest; keep it open and broad.

  • Ensure your head and neck follow the twist naturally.

Duration of Hold

Hold Ardha Matsyendrasana for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Gradually increase the duration as your flexibility and comfort improve.

Drishti (Gaze)

Your gaze, or Drishti, should be over your back shoulder. This helps maintain balance and deepen the twist.

Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physically, you’ll feel a deep stretch and detoxification, especially in your spine and digestive organs. Spiritually, this pose encourages introspection and a sense of inner calm. It’s a moment to connect with your breath and center your thoughts.

Beginners’ Tips

  • Sit on a folded blanket if your hips are tight.

  • Keep the extended leg straight if bending it under is uncomfortable.

  • Use a yoga strap around your knee if you can’t reach it with your opposite arm.

Who Should Not Do It

Avoid this pose if you have:

  • Severe spinal injuries or conditions

  • Recent abdominal surgery

  • Herniated discs

  • Pregnancy, as the twist may be too intense

Who Should Do It

Ardha Matsyendrasana is beneficial for:

  • Individuals with mild back pain

  • Those looking to improve digestion

  • People seeking better spinal flexibility

  • Anyone wanting to detoxify and rejuvenate

Benefits of Half Fish Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

  • Improves spinal flexibility and mobility

  • Enhances digestion and detoxifies internal organs

  • Stretches the hips, shoulders, and neck

  • Alleviates stress and anxiety

  • Balances energy flow and revitalizes the body

  • Activates the Manipura Chakra, boosting confidence

Variations of Half Fish Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana I: The traditional version described above.

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana II: Involves binding the arms behind the back for a deeper stretch.

  • Seated Twist: A simpler variation where both legs remain extended.

Modifications for Half Fish Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

  • Use a bolster or block under your hand for support.

  • Keep the bottom leg straight if folding it is uncomfortable.

  • Hold onto a yoga strap looped around your knee for assistance.

Common Mistakes

  • Rounding the back instead of elongating the spine.

  • Twisting from the shoulders rather than the torso.

  • Allowing the bent knee to lift off the ground.

  • Holding the breath instead of maintaining a steady flow.

Safety and Precautions

  • Move slowly into the twist to avoid injury.

  • Listen to your body; never force the pose.

  • Consult with a yoga instructor if you’re unsure about your alignment.

Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face

Face east while practicing, symbolizing new beginnings and the rising sun’s energy.

What to Wear

Comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows a full range of motion. Avoid anything too tight or restrictive.

Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Choose a quiet, clutter-free space. Enhance the atmosphere with calming essential oils like lavender or sandalwood.

Music for This Pose

Soft, instrumental music or nature sounds can create a serene environment, helping you to focus and relax.

Ardha Matsyendrasana is a transformative pose that offers a myriad of benefits. By integrating this pose into your regular yoga practice, you’ll experience improved flexibility, better digestion, and a deeper connection to your inner self. Remember, yoga is a journey, not a destination. Take your time, breathe deeply, and enjoy the process.

Happy Yoga-ing!


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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

The chant for this pose is super helpful. Thanks 🙂

Replying to

So glad to hear that! 😊

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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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