Half Lord of Fishes is a seated yoga pose that beckons the body into an invigorating twist. You’ll be able to feel the shoulder all the way down to the outer thigh stretching as you turn the body around as far as you can go. 

Known as Ardha Matsyendrasana in Sanskrit, this asana can relieve the body of any post-workout discomfort especially concerning the obliques, shoulders, and hips. Visualize the body wringing itself out of any negative energy and preparing to be filled with light and love.

Benefits of Half Lord of Fishes Pose

Ardha Matsyendrasana works wonders for stretching the entire side body, especially the obliques and hips. This intermediate twist can help relieve the body of bloating and gas and massage the inner organs to aid in digestion. After completing your Half Lord of Fishes on both sides, you'll feel the side body has opened and become longer and more supple. 

If bending both knees feels too much for you, you can try a gentler version where one leg remains stretched out before you on your yoga mat, which may be best if you find the hip stretch in Ardha Matsyendrasana is too deep for your current physical abilities. You'll also discover a gentle neck and shoulder stretch as you turn to face the corner of the upright leg, using your elbow for leverage.

Chakras involved in Ardha Matsyendrasana

Concentrate your prana on the solar plexus to call upon the Manipura chakra. As you turn into Half Lord of Fishes, imagine the wheel above the abdomen churning energy and unlocking your potential for power and self-worth. 

The solar plexus chakra welcomes transformation and helps you find self-esteem and strength within. You'll know when your Manipura is stagnated because you'll feel weak and filled with self-doubt, unsure of how to approach even the smallest task. Bringing your attention to this chakra will stimulate personal growth.

How to practise Half Lord of Fishes Pose

1. Begin in Dandasana, or Staff Pose, with the buttocks rooted to your yoga mat, and both legs extended forward. Keep your back strong and straight with the chin tucked slightly forward to align the spine. Your palms will press into the ground on either side of your hips.

2. From your seated posture, bend both knees, bringing the legs towards you, and planting the soles of your feet on the ground. The tops of your thighs should be comfortably touching your stomach.

3. Keeping the right leg in its position, bring the left leg down so the outer thigh is touching your yoga mat. Using your hands if you need, place the left leg through the space under your right leg. It is okay if you need to adjust the right leg slightly, but try to keep it bent with your buttocks firmly planted on the ground. Depending on your flexibility, the left foot can rest at the side of your right hip.

4. With the legs now in the position for Half Lord of Fishes Pose, bring your awareness to the upper body. Your right arm will support your upper body and help keep the back erect. Place it behind you, but not so far that you need to fall back into it.

5. With a deep breath in, lift the chest and roll the shoulders back. As you exhale, begin to turn to the right leg while simultaneously bending the left arm and placing it on the right side of the right knee. The placement of your left elbow holds you in the twist and allows for leverage by creating a deeper stretch in the left hip and side body.

6. Your neck should turn and stop at the most natural point without feeling any strain. Concentrate on twisting the core as opposed to the head or neck. Now, check in with your left hand – you want to keep the forearm active and pressing into the right side of the right thigh. Activate your palm by keeping it open with the fingers straight in a salute gesture.

7. Breathe into your hip, the side body, and anywhere else you feel a deep stretch. Avoid collapsing into the pose. Keep the back straight and your gaze light. To exit the pose, inhale and unwrap the left arm from the right leg. Release the breath and bring the core back to centre. Bring your hands to the left leg to guide it out from under the right leg. From here, complete Ardha Matsyendrasana with the opposite side body to bring harmony to your practice.

Tips for Beginners

1. Focus on twisting your core as opposed to the neck. There should not be any discomfort in the neck when doing any sort of yoga twist. Only turn your head as far as it can comfortably go.

2. Try not to crouch into the pose for the sake of turning the body further. Instead, keep your back straight with help from the planted palm behind you and allow the chest to lift with the breath. This will help keep a smoother posture.

3. Don't feel shame if this twist is too much for you at first. Listen to your body and engage in an easier version of Half Lord of Fishes, such as keeping one or both legs in Staff position (straightened in front of you) as you twist.

Optional Props to help you practice Ardha Matsyendrasana

1. By folding your yoga mat under the sit bone, you can create a buffer between the bones in the buttocks and the hard floor. A folded blanket or thin pillow may be preferable if you have one on hand.

When to Avoid the practise of Half Lord of Fishes Pose

1. While you shouldn't strain the neck in a twist anyway, you should still consider opting out of a neck stretch if you are experiencing neck pain. If you are experiencing neck pain and feel like the neck needs a careful stretch, consider doing so with the body in a neutral position so all of your focus remains on the delicate neck.

2. Some yogis may experience knee pain when the legs are bent in the true Ardha Matsyendrasana position, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't reap the awesome benefits of this asana! Instead, keep one or both legs straight while using the top of the thigh and your connected palm to push yourself into a deeper but doable stretch.

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