The Ardja-Matsyendrasana or (Half Lord of the Fishes pose)

This is the only exercise of its kind, since it strengthens the backbone through a twisting movement on either side. It is a variation on the original movement, too difficult for the Western students to contemplate; even so it may prove difficult for the beginner and will require patient application.


Sit on the mat or rug with legs outstretched, holding the trunk erect. Then cross your right foot over your left knee. Place the fingers of your left hand on top of the toes of your right foot. This is the first stage of this Deep Contraction exercise. For Stage Two, stretch the left arm and grip the toes of the right foot. Place the right arm across your back so that the hand, with the palm outward, rests on the waistline near the left hip. As you do this, your torso will be turned half-right. Hold this position, stretching consciously, for a few seconds. Check to see that the chest is erect, otherwise you will not get the full benefit of the asana. Relax. Repeat, reversing the motions, bending the right leg, and so on, and finally turning half-left, Relax again. Increase the stretch by one second every time you do this exercise, until you are able to hold the position for a full minute. Always remember that your motions must be smooth, gradual, and never jerky.

Half Lord of the Fishes pose:
Lion posture
Therapeutic Value:

This asana helps keep the spine supple and in perfect health, in addition to massaging the abdominal organs. Consequently it will relieve, and even more importantly prevent, lumbago and muscular rheumatism, as well as guard against slipped disks. Since it places pressure upon the spleen, liver and kidneys, it eliminates their sluggishness. It also helps tone the entire nervous system, acting to rejuvenate the whole body. Consequently it is considered one of the most useful of asanas.