Yoga Pose Breakdown: Half Spinal Twist

What you need to know to get into Half Spinal Twist safely.


Mastering a yoga pose can be a daunting task. Here are the basics of what you need to know to get into Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana). Have questions? Leave them in the comments below. 

Sanskrit Name: (ARE-dah MOT-see-en-DRAHS-anna) ardha = half Matsyendra, or king of the fish (matsya = fish indra = ruler), an iconic teacher of yoga. 

Get Started: Sit down with your legs extended long in front of you, toes pointed up toward the sky, heels grounding into the Earth. Cross one leg over the other with lifted knee, and raise the opposite arm. Place the outer edge of your elbow out the outer edge of your lifted knee, and use the leverage to spin open. Gaze over the opposite shoulder.

If working with a partner, sit cross legged, and grab opposite hands with your partner.

Benefits: This pose stimulates the liver and kidneys, energizes the spine and digestive organs, stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck, and can relieve menstrual cramps, sciatica, backache, and fatigue.

Contradictions: If you have a back or spine injury, only practice this pose under the guidance of a teacher.

Know your asana: In some traditional texts, Half Spinal Twist increases appetite, destroys most deadly diseases, and awakens kundalini.