Seated Twist

Sanskrit: Ardha Matsyendrasana

This seated twist will help to increase the flexibility of your spine taking it into left and right rotations (twists). As you twist, one side of your body is stretched and the other side is compressed. Twists are generally accepted to stimulate your internal organs which is thought to help the digestive system.

A seated twist will usually be sequenced towards the end of your practice but sometimes at the start of class if we are focusing on moving the spine in all its directions.

Named after Matsyendra, Lord of the Fishes, this pose is correctly translated into English as Half Lord of the Fishes and you will normally hear it referred to as this in class.

How to get into the pose:

  • From Seated Staff Pose (Dandasana) bend your right knee and step your right foot outside your left thigh or knee. Keep your right knee upright.

  • Bend your left knee and draw your heel towards the outside of your right hip. Your left leg should be resting completely on the mat.

  • Inhale your right arm into the air and then exhale to bring the arm close in behind your back.

  • Inhale to lift your left arm up (so your left shoulder moves forward and the right shoulder back) and then exhale the arm outside your right knee using the connection of arm and leg to deepen your twist. You could also bend the elbow or hold your knee with your hand (as in pictures above).

  • Take deep breaths. Lengthen the crown of the head towards the sky as you inhale and then deepen into your twist as you exhale. Gaze over your right shoulder if that feels ok for your neck.

  • Return to the centre on an inhale then repeat the pose on the left side.

Remember to create the balance between effort and ease in your pose.

How long to stay in the pose:

  • Five breaths on each side

Gaze (Drishti)

  • To the side (parsva)

Modifications you can take to make this pose more accessible:

  • Keep your bottom leg straight

  • Sit on a block or blanket to neutralise the alignment of hips and spine

Contraindications / Cautions:

  • Do not practice this twist if you have a disc injury

  • Be careful with this pose if you have a knee injury or are recovering from knee surgery

  • Be careful with this pose if you have a neck injury