Half Spinal Twist / Ardha-Matsyendrasana

There are many postures that bend the spine forwards and backwards, but often the lateral twisting motion is neglected. Ardha-Matsyendrasana is the ninth posture, providing a powerful twist to the spine while massaging the abdominal organs and stimulating digestion.


  • Keeps the spine elastic
  • Sends a rich supply of blood to ligaments attached to the spine
  • Helps relieve lumbago and muscular rheumatism of back and hips
  • Helps dissolve adhesions in the joins from rheumatoid arthritis
  • Increases synovial fluid of the joins
  • Tones sympathetic nervous system
  • Massages abdominal muscles and organs, helping relieve digestive problems
  • Stimulates the gastric juices


  1. Begin in child’s post. Slowly roll up to sit on the heels.
  2. Sit the hips to the right of the feet, on the ground.
  3. Place the left foot on the outside of the right knee, ankle and knee aligned. Make sure both sitting bones are on the ground. If this position in uncomfortable or you cannot sit up easily, straighten the right leg.
  4. Place the left hand directly in line with the spine one hands width away from the back.
  5. Inhale, raise the right arm up lengthen the spine, and bring it around the outside of the left leg, twist to the left. There are three arm posititions: Easiest is to hug the left knee into the body (as pictured above). If you are more flexible you may hold the knee or left ankle. Look over the left shoulder.
  6. Breathe deeply. Inhale, lengthen the spine, exhale, twist a little deeper. Hold up to 1 minute on each side.
  7. To release, inhale the right arm up, and exhale, untwist.
  8. Repeat on the opposite side.
  9. As a counter stretch, hug both knees into the chest and bring the forehead to the knees. Hold for a few breaths, and release.


  • The three main alignments for this posture: hips roughly square and on the ground, the spine is straight and the shoulders are level.
  • Make sure you are not sitting on your heel on either side of the posture.
  • It is a common mistake for this basic posture to bring the foot of the top leg back towards the hip, this is an advanced position and makes it much more difficult to twist. Try bringing the foot forward towards the knee as pictured above.
  • If you cannot keep the spine straight try a simpler arm position of the three options above. Sometimes trying to reach for the ankle or knee may cause you to hunch/bend the spine.
  • If the shoulders are not square, adjust the foot further from the hips and check the location of the back arm.
  • If too much weight is on the back arm, adjust the foot position forward or straighten the bottom leg.

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