How to Do Half Lord of the Fishes Pose in Yoga (Guide to Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Half Lord of the Fishes is a popular seated twist that uses the body position for leverage. Although the twist is quite intense, it feels refreshing and rejuvenating afterward. Although this pose can be very poignant as part of a longer practice, it can also be performed as a standalone asana, as it engages the entire body.

“There is something so satisfying about Half Lord of Fishes, it’s hard to put into words,” says Yoga Answered contributor Cat Harvey. “It’s almost like this pose puts every part of your body into the right place.”

Half Lord of the Fishes Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Ardha Matsyendrasana
Pose Type: Hip-Opening Yoga Poses, Seated Yoga Poses, Twist Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Hips, back, chest, spine, and shoulders
Benefits: Half Lord of the Fishes is a great twist for the thoracic and cervical sections of the spine. Not only does it improve spinal flexibility, but it also strengthens the muscles supporting the spine, which results in a healthier posture. The leg position allows the practitioner to enjoy the stretch in the outer hips and thighs. In addition to benefitting the muscles and joints, this pose improves blood circulation to internal organs, especially in the gastrointestinal region. Therefore, this twist helps to promote digestion and regular bowel movement. It can also help reduce discomfort in the abdominal area.
Preparatory Poses: Seated Twist, Easy Pose, Cow Face Pose

How to Do Half Lord of the Fishes Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Sit on your mat with your legs extended forward. Bend your right knee and step your right foot across the left leg. Try to position your right foot as close as possible to the outer edge of the left leg. Pull your right knee close to your chest.
  2. Next, bend your left leg and bring your left foot towards the right hip. The left knee should be pointed forward.
  3. Make sure both sit bones are grounded and lengthen through the spine.
  4. Bring your right hand behind you and hook your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. You can keep the palm open or form a mudra with your hand. Press the knee and upper arm against each other to prompt the body to twist.
  5. Rotate your chest and shoulders to your right, turning the head to look over the right shoulder.
  6. Stay here for 30-60 seconds before exiting the pose and repeating this asana on the other side.

Beginner’s Tip

The position of the legs can be tricky for a beginner because this pose also calls for a long, straight back and grounding contact through both sit bones. You might find that crossing one leg over the other is challenging enough, in which case, try performing this twist with the bottom leg extended. If bringing both legs into the right formation makes you round your back or shift the weight into one side, consider elevating your seat with a block. In some instances, it’s not feasible to connect elbow and knee, in which case you can gently hug the knee towards the chest.

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