Hatha Yoga

    The Half Spinal Twist - Ardha-Matsyendrasana

    half spinal twist

    Introduction

    Ardha-Matsyendrasana, the half spinal twist, is ninth in the sequence of 12 basic postures of hatha yoga. There are many benefits to this posture, but the most important is that the entire length of the spine receives a lateral twist in both directions - first to the left and then to the right.

    Physical Benefits

    Energetic (Pranic) Benefits

    Mental Benefits

    Technique

    The half spinal twist begins from the child's pose resting position following the bow pose.

    To come out of the posture inhale and lift the right arm over your head, stretch up, and exhale and release the hand back down to the mat.

    The half spinal twist continues by twisting the opposite direction.

    half spinal twist to the right

    To begin, return to the sitting posture on top of the heels.

    To come out of the posture inhale and lift the left arm over your head, stretch up, and exhale and release the hand back down to the mat.

    The Full Spinal Twist - Purna-Matsyendrasana

    full spinal twist

    The difference between the half spinal twist and the full spinal twist is the placement of the foot. As shown in this photo of hatha yoga master Swami Vishnu-devananda, in the full spinal twist the right foot is positioned between the left thigh and the abdomen. This creates a much more intense pressure on the internal organs of the body.

    WARNING: the full spinal twist is very difficult to master. Before trying it you should be able to perform the lotus sitting posture very comfortably. Trying the full spinal twist before you have proper flexibility in the knees and legs can permanently damage the knees.

    The half spinal twist is part of the basic yoga class.

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