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    Ardha Matsyendrasana

    ardha matsyendrasana, half lord of fish pose, grabbing wrist behind back, back view

    Ardha matsyendrasana is a twisting yoga pose.

    It is also a binding yoga pose.

    In it you sit with your pelvis on the ground one foot pulled in close to the opposite buttock. The other leg is positioned so that the foot is to the outside of the other thigh with the knee pointing upwards.

    (Note that the ankle of the top foot is close to the knee of the other foot.)

    If your right leg is on top you can position your left arm to the outside of your right thigh and use if for leverage to help you twist to the right. You could also internally rotate your left arm to reach your left forearm beneath your right thigh and grab your right wrist behind your back.

    ardha matsyendrasana, grabbing the instep of the top leg foot

    Note that you twist towards your uppermost leg.

    In some versions of this pose, instead of grabbing your hand behind your back you actually grab onto the instep of your right foot with your arm to the outside of your right knee.

    However, if you can't grab the foot, another option is to grab the top of the lowest knee instead.

    Getting Your Legs Set Up

    To get into ardha matsyendrasana the first step is to set up your legs.

    Ideally both sittin bones are on the floor in this pose. That means that you can't "sit" on your bottom foot.

    Try to position it close to your buttock without it being under your buttock.

    Depending on your flexibility and relative size of your limbs you may need to position your top leg foot to the inside of your bottom leg shin.

    Note that you can experiment with different foot positions to make it easier (or harder) to bind.

    I usually to have the top ankle close to the knee of the bottom leg.

    However, some people can get away with having their foot closer towards the buttock.

    Note that if you are twisting to the left (left leg on top) you may have a tendency to try to turn your pelvis to the left also.

    To counter act this tendency turn your pelvis in opposition to the twist of your ribcage.

    One reason for doing this is to deepen the spinal twist in ardha matsyendrasana.

    Another reason is to give the top leg hip joint room to move.

    If you create space in your top leg hip you may find it easier to pull your top knee inwards, towards your center line.

    While sitting without binding you can focus on pulling your top leg towards the opposite side.

    ardha matsyendrasana, half lord of fish pose, arm to outside of knee

    Foundation for Twisting

    When you are actually twisting in ardha matsyendrasana with your arm to the outside of your thigh or actually binding with it, you can focus on making your top leg stable so that you can use it as a foundaiton for deepening your twist.

    So, if your left leg is on top, make it still so that you can push your right arm against it to deepen your twist to the left.

    If you can't get your arm to the outside of your thigh then hold on to your knee with your opposite arm and use your arm to pull your shoulder towards the knee.

    Grabbing the Foot

    If you want to grab the inside of the foot press your arm back against your knee to level the side of your ribcage forwards.

    From there if you can first grab the knee of your bottom foot and then, when you loosen up, you can try grabbing the insole of your top leg foot.

    Ardha matsyendrasana, grabbing the instep of the top leg foot

    Once you have the foot, use the leverage offered by your arm to try to deepen the twist. But prior to that focus on relaxing. The more you relax the easier it is (depending on the position you are in) to stretch.


    Earlier I suggested that ideally you have both sitting bones on the floor in ardha matsyendrasana. However, if you are in the process of binding you may find it easier to bind if you lift your top-leg hip off of the floor.

    So, if you are twisting to the left and your left leg is on top, lift your left hip.

    You can try sinking it to the floor once you have bound.

    ardha matsyendrasana, half lord of fish pose, pushing arm under leg to bindardha matsyendrasana, half lord of fish pose, grabbing wrist behind back, front view

    Reach your right shoulder towards your left knee.

    You may have to sink the right side of your ribcage down in order to do this.

    Try to get your elbow past your knee (as in the picture to the left.) Once this is the case, then bend your elbow and try to pass it underneath your leg.

    ardha matsyendrasana, half lord of fish pose, pushing arm under leg to bindardha matsyendrasana, half lord of fish pose, grabbing wrist behind back, back view

    Focus on "internally rotating" your right shoulder to do this.

    Once you have reached past the top of your bottom thigh you can reach your left arm behind your back. Pull the left shoulder and left side of your ribcage back when you do so.

    Once you've grabbed your wrist (or fingers) behind your back, press your left sitting bone down and try to get your weight even on both sitting bones.

    Use your arms to gently turn your ribcage deeper.

    Lengthen your neck and try to open the front of your ribcage.

    Trouble Binding

    If you have trouble betting your arm under your leg in ardha matsyendrasana, you may find that penguin shoulder stretch helps.

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    Return to Binding Yoga Poses from Ardha Matysendrasana

    Seated Yoga Poses

    , If you are flexibility impaired, then one option for janu sirsasana side bend is to bend the knee of the leg you are bending towards. If you find that you tend to tip backwards you can also place the hand on the floor to the outside of the upward pointing knee. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , One option for a seated side bend is to sit with legs wide, knees straight and bend to one side. In this case both arms are reaching past the head adding weight to the stretch. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , One option for a seated side bend is to sit with legs wide, with one knee straight and the other knee bent with the shin folded to the outside of the thigh <br>(hero position). Bend towards the straight leg to stretch the side of the torso. In this case the top hand grabs the foot of the straight leg with the uppermost side of the ribcage rolling back. The lower shoulder is to the inside of the leg and pressing back against the leg.  Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , yoga for flexiblity, bound angle inner thigh stretch <br>(baddha konasana) with a 45 degree forward bend, hands grabbing the feet. Make the spine feel long from pelvis to head, push the feet into the floor and use the arms to pull up on the feet so that the ribcage moves down. In this picture my elbows point back. Model, Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , Hamstring stretches, wide leg forward bend. In this wide leg forward bend feet are a legs distance apart from side to side with feet parallel and knees straight. Upper body is tilted forwards with torso almost horizontal. Both arms are reaching forwards with hands off of the floor. Gaze is downwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , frog pose seated hip stretch. Sit with legs open 90 degrees. Keep one knee straight. Bend the other knee with the shin to the outside of the thigh <br>(hero position). Top of the foot or the inside of the foot can be on the floor. <br>(In picture, the inner foot is on the floor so that toes point outwards.) Turn midway between both thighs and slowly bend forwards. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , In seated forward bend, you can sit with legs parallel and knees straight. Tilting forwards at the hips, make the spine long <br>(from tailbone to crown) and reach the arms forwards. Make arms and legs and spine all feel long. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , In table top yoga pose, move the shoulder blades together. Reach the chest back <br>(towards the chin.) Press the feet down to press the pelvis up. In this picture the the head is slightly lifted. You could also relax the neck and let the head hang back. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , For reverse plank <br>(also called straight bridge or purvottanasana), move the shoulder blades together, reach the chest towards the chin and press the heels down into the floor to lift the pelvis. Keep the knees straight. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , Modified compass pose or Compass pose preparation is a seated hamstring stretch. From a cross legged position grab one foot with both hands, lift the floor and straighten the knee. Keep the neck long and chest lifted. Relax the shoulders to make it easier to straighten the knee. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , For compass pose, start from a seated cross leg position. Place one thigh behind the same shoulder. Press the hand into the floor. Grab the foot with the opposite hand. Keep the shoulder relaxed slowly straighten the knee and rotate the leg so that the knee points towards the side of the body. Press the other shoulder back against the leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , ardha matsyendrasana seated yoga pose. Step one leg over the other. Have foot just beside the other knee. In this picture the opposite arm is hugging the top knee. The other hand is on the floor behind the back. Both arms are being used to turn the ribcage and twist the spine. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , janu sirsasana a with head to shin and hand on the floor either side of the straight leg. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoa Poses. , Getting into Janu Sirsasana B seated yoga pose, Using hands to lift the hips and place anus on top of the bent knee heel. , janu sirsasana C, in this picture torso is upright with spine long. Foot is against the inner thigh with heel uppermost and toes tucked towards the knee. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , half bound lotus seated forward bend <br>(ardha baddha padmo paschimottanasana). Right foot is in lotus and bound with the right hand. Left hand is grabbing the left big toe. Torso is tilted forwards at the hips. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , bharadvajasana, one leg in lotus the other in hero. Lotus foot is bound with same side arm from behind the back. Hero side hand is on the lotus knee. Torso is twisting towards the lotus side. Neil Keleher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , full lotus, hands on knees , Modified marichyasana position with non-marichyasana foot folded to the inside of the other foor. Torso is twisting away from the marichyasana side. Neil Kelher. Sensational Yoga Poses. , Marichyasana A from side, can see hand grabbing wrist behind back. , marichyasana C , marichyasana B from lotus leg side. Head off of the floor. , marichyasana D <br>(working towards binding) , triang muka eka pada paschimottanasana with hand grabbing wrist. three quarter front angle , reclining half hero pose <br>(ardha supta virasana), arms behind head , hero pose seated, upright, hands on floor. , reclining half hero pose, arms behind head

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