Asana Spotlight | Ardha Matsyendrasana

As we ease out of the indulgent holiday season and enter a new chapter of balance and sustainability, a cleansing twist makes for a perfect segue towards mind and body health. Symbolically, twists are considered a balance between yin and yang, between light and dark, between the conscious and the subconscious as the front body and the back body reverse order.

Ardha Matsyendrasa fits that mold for us. In Sanskrit, ardha denotes as ‘half’, matsya ‘fish’, indra ‘king’ and asana ‘pose’. Together the pose translates as Half Lord of the Fish. This posture is titled after a true sage, Matsyendra, that lived during the 10th century c.e. He was not only a pioneer of Hatha Yoga - he was also referenced in mythological hindu texts as an enlightened character.

As the myth goes, baby Matsyendra was swallowed up by a great whale. As he grew up, he came upon an underground cave where Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati were divulging many secrets of yoga. With this new found knowledge and a dedicated yoga practice, Matsyendra became enlightened and emerged from the sea to share his wisdom with the world. Physically, Ardha matsyendrasana not only creates mobility for the spine; it is also a cleansing seated twist that wrings out the internal organs as a way to stimulate the digestive system. With every inhale the spine lengthens, and with every exhale there is space to deepen into this detoxifying twist. We invite you to explore this posture full of breath and intention as a way to spark peace and joy for years to come!