Ardha Matseyandrasana: Half Lord of the Fishes

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As legend has it, Matseyandra received the name “Lord of the Fishes” because while he was inside of a fish (he was a fisherman, swallowed whole by a giant fish), he happened upon the secret location where Shiva was teaching his wife, Parvati, the secrets of yoga. Delighted to discover a man inside of a fish, Shiva named him Matseyandra. The posture Matseyandrasana is supposedly what Matseyandra spontaneously moved into once he was released from the fish!

The poses of Matseyandrasana and Ardha (half) Matseyandrasana are twists said to help awaken the kundalini energy of the spine. As the spine links the base of the body (where the kundalini serpent sleeps) and the crown of the head, it is believed that the twisting motion of the posture forces the kundalini energy upward toward the crown. The power of the body is then united with the wisdom of the mind.

The full version of the posture requires one of the legs to be in half-lotus position, not easy for everyone. So here pictured you will see versions of Ardha Matseyandrasana. In two of the photos, you will see an easier variation with one of the legs kept straight. This pose stretches out some of the muscles around the hip along with giving the spine, muscles, and torso organs a twist. Here are steps to come into the pose:

1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. If you cannot maintain the natural curves of the spine, sit on the edge of a blanket or a block until you can.

2. Lift your right (R) leg and place the foot to the outside of your L thigh. Then bend and externally rotate your L leg and bring the heel to the outside of your R hip.

3. Inhale and lift your spine tall, and on the exhale place your R hand on the floor or on a block behind you, while you hold onto your R knee and leg in front of you.

4. Continue to ground into the R big toe mound and inner heel, and lengthen up through your spine on your inhales, possibly deepening into the twist while you maintain your torso’s length on the exhales. Some will find that they can even take the L elbow to the outside of the R knee. Stay open across the collarbones, and feel the shoulderblades continuing to support that opening by moving into the upper back.

5. Stay for 5-10 breaths. Allow your eyes to close, feel your breath arising from the base of your body to the tip of your spine on the inhale, and let your exhale carry your breath back down to the base of your body.

6. Unwind from the twist on an exhale and do the other side.

Enjoy the richness of the mythology behind this pose, along with the energetic benefits of wringing out your body.


Mary Byerly is the Director of the Panacea Yoga School, located 10 minutes from Tamarindo. You can find her on social media as MaryByerlyYoga and at, or text 8592-8826.

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