Weight loss through yoga focuses on building flexibility of body and mind leading to overall good health and better weight control. The Ardha Matsyendrasana is a slightly tricky exercise but is beneficial to all the body’s systems. It is named after Hatha Yoga proponent Sage Matsyendranath, whose favorite meditation pose was the full spinal twist position. Because that is difficult to practice, a simplified half twist was devised.
This asana benefits the spine, hips, abdomen, chest, and arms. It increases the elasticity of the spine, relieves back pain and stiffness from between the vertebrae, increases digestive secretions, and by opening the chest, increases the oxygen supply to the lungs. It’s particularly useful to those suffering from a mild slipped disc, and in women, preventing urinary tract and menstrual disorders. Check with your weight loss or yoga instructor before trying any new asana.
How it’s done
- Sit with your legs stretched out before you. Bend your left leg, life it over your right knee and place it on the ground on your left. Your left knee should be close to your right armpit.
- Place your right heel near the left buttock. It should be folded and resting on the ground.
- Take your right hand over your left leg and hold the big toe of your left foot. If you can’t hold your toe, grab your ankle instead or raise your toes keeping your heel on the ground.
- While breathing, twist your trunk as much as you can keeping your spine erect, turning your neck to look over your left shoulder. Encircle your waist with your left hand, palm outwards. Hold for a short time, to begin with; gradually go up to two minutes and with practice, you can go up to five minutes on each side.
- Keep your spine straight. Do not bend or drop your shoulders, place your hand on the ground to support your shoulder if you need to.
- Keep both of the buttocks firmly on the ground.
- Twist as far as you can while keeping your back and neck straight.
- Lifting your buttocks or left sole off the ground.
- Bending your neck or back forward.
- Overstraining your hips and knees.
Variations for beginners
- Keep your right leg straight instead of wrapping it around the body. Or place your left foot a little away from the body, closer to the right foot.
- If you can’t balance, place your left on the ground to support your body instead of wrapping it behind your back.
Pregnant or menstruating women should not try this asana as it strongly twists the abdomen. People who have had heart, abdominal and brain surgeries or suffer from peptic ulcer, hernia and severe spinal problems should also avoid this asana.