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Seated Half Spinal Twist, Ardha Matsyendrasana: Yoga Twists – Hatha Yoga Classes in Milton Keynes

Twisting around gives you a chance to see things from a new perspective. Twists release a lot of tension from the small muscles around the spine. They are great balancers. When you are restless and agitated, twists tend to settle you down. They give you a lift when you feel tired and lethargic. The next time get wound up by life, spiral yourself into a long twist, then, as your body uncoils, feel your mind unwind – Ardha Matsyendrasana with Yoga Lily, Hatha Yoga Classes in Milton Keynes.
Ardha Matsyendrasana – position 3

Ardha Matsyendrasana – The pressure of thigh against abdomen massages the internal organs and promotes their healthy functioning.

1. Starting in Seated Staff Posture, bend both knees and place the the feet on the floor.Bend the left knee and take the foot back toward the right buttock. Have the heel directly in front of the right sitting bone.

Dandasana - Seated Staff Posture

Begin in Seated Staff Posture

Ardha Matsyendrasana position 1 & 2
2. Take the right leg up and over the left thigh so the foot comes near to the left knee. Press both sitting bones down toward the floor. Draw the lower back slightly in and up, releasing the spine up toward the crown of the head. While the right fingertips press to the floor, inhale and stretch the left arm upward, extending through the fingers.
3. Exhale and turn the abdomen and chest toward the right. Without losing the length in the torso, bring your left elbow to the outer right thigh. Push against the thigh while resisting with it to assist in twisting to the right.
Diagram of Ardha Matsyendrasana position 5
4. Move the left elbow to the outside of the right knee, without shortening the the left side of the waist. Bring the left armpit as close to the knee as possible, maintaining the extension of the spine Straighten the left arm and reach the hand to the front of the left knee, or if you can, to the right foot. Gaze over your right shoulder.
5. Breathe here, gently squeezing the lower abdomen in toward the spine on the exhalation and lifting the chest and lengthening the spine on the inhalation to deepen the twist.

Ardha Matsyendrasana, Seated half Spinal Twist

6. Release on an inhalation, letting go of the hands and slowly returning the chest to the centre. Unfold the legs, rest in Seated Staff Posture, and repeat on the other side.


Focus: Over the back shoulder
Counter Poses:

Lighten pose:

  • Hug the front knee with the opposite arm while pressing the torso to the thigh
  • If you are unable to clasp the hands, allow the back hand to rest on the floor and have the front elbow bent to 90°, fingers pointing toward the sky
  • And intermediate option is to put the right arm through the ‘window’ under the knee to grasp the left hand

Effect: Balancing – both invigorating and calming

Ardha Matsyendrasana, Seated Half Spinal Twist Counter Poses

In yoga we use a counter pose in a sequence; For example, a twist follows a backbend to “neutralise” the spine, or a forward bend follows a backbend to help lengthen the spine and calm the nervous system.


East Stretch Posture (purvottanasana)

Paschimottanasana, Double Leg Forward Stretch

Double Leg Forward Stretch (paschimottanasana)