Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half spinal twist)
Ardha Matsyendrasana

Weightloss 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 favourite 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 weightloss or yoga instructor before trying any new asana.

How it’s done

  1. 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.
  2. Place your right heel near the left buttock. It should be folded and resting on the ground.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Make sure

  1. 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.
  2. Keep both of the buttocks firmly on the ground.
  3. Twist as far as you can while keeping your back and neck straight.


  1. Lifting your buttocks or left sole off the ground.
  2. Bending your neck or back forward.
  3. Overstraining your hips and knees.

Variations for beginners

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


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Written by Indira Chavva

Indira Chavva

A yoga teacher with RYT-certification (200 & 300 hours) from Yoga Alliance, Indira Chavva believes there are benefits beyond physical fitness to be gained from the age-old practice, like mental well-being and self-realization. These revelations proved life-changing for her – quitting her corporate career, which included stints in HSBC and Franklin Templeton Investments, Indira is now a full-time yoga teacher and Pilates instructor, schooled in Hatha Yoga, Power Yoga, Hot Yoga, Iyengar Yoga (asana with props), Pre and Post-natal Yoga, Therapeutic Yoga and Shatkarmas (Body-cleansing practices). Her ambition is to have no ambition, she says, in accordance with karmic philosophy that working without attachment, one attains the Supreme. She feels blessed to be able to share these revelations with HealthifyMe users, and help them cope with strong emotions like anger, stress, desires, etc. Indira believes being mentally strong and positive can solve all physical ailments. All you have to do is gain control over three things – the body, breath and mind. Her mantra is “Invest at least an hour daily on yourself” and she guarantees you’ll learn to enjoy whatever hand life deals you.

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  1. Thank you so much for such a nice article. Well written and very clear too! I ll start practicing in addition to my current diet program. Cannot hurt to add this.

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