An Easy Guide to Ardha Matsyendrasana, or Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Ardha Matsyendrasana, or Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, stimulates the abdomen, so helps relieve discomfort and tension that builds in this area, like menstrual pain. It’s great for relieving stiffness, as well as general muscle aches and pains which build up in day-to-day activities.

 Ardha  Matsyendrasana

Ardha Matsyendrasana squeezes the whole of the abdominal cavity, stimulating digestion, the liver and kidneys, and squeezes out tension set into the spine, neck and shoulders. This is one of our favourite ways to unwind at the end of a stressful day - yoga's answer to a mug of steaming hot chocolate.

Watch a clip for this yoga pose 

How to do Ardha Matsyendrasana, or Half Lord of the Fishes Pose, in easy steps

Step 1:

Sit with your legs stretched in front of you (Dandasana).

Step 2:

Sit on a blanket or block for extra lift in the spine if required.

Step 3:

Exhale, bend your right leg and place the foot on the outside of the left knee.

Step 4:

Keep the left leg extended in front of you or bend and fold it in front of the body so that the heel is touching the side of the right buttock.

Step 5:

On an inhalation, place your left arm against the outside of your right thigh near the knee, bringing your upper body and right thigh towards each other.

Step 6:

Place the right hand behind you, near the buttocks with the palms downwards.

Step 7:

Exhale, twist the trunk towards the back of the room. Twist from the lumbar spine, not from the shoulders. Use the left elbow as a lever against the right knee to deepen the twist.

Step 8:

Looking over your right shoulder press the right foot against the floor to root and maintain length in the front upper body.

Step 9:

Either turn the head to the right, continuing the twist of the upper body, or you can turn it to the left to look at the right foot.

Step 10:

Use the breath - lift through the chest with each inhalation; twist slightly more with each exhalation. Stay for 10 to 20 breaths.

Step 11:

To come out of the pose, slowly undo the twist on an inhalation, release the arms and stretch the legs out in front of you.


Ardha  Matsyendrasana

Yoga pose category:  Seated and twists

Level: 2

Be sure to sit up well on your mat so that you can comfortably twist as needed. If, however, you’re finding that this is too much of a stretch, take it slow and don’t push too hard. Taking this pose at your own pace will avoid pulling a muscle or harming yourself – remember, even the most experienced yogis started somewhere.

Sanskrit words meaning: 

Ardha – half 

Matsya – fish

Asana - pose

Yoga pose health benefits: 

Like all yoga poses, Ardha Matsyendrasana has many health benefits. Use it to help with the following health conditions:



Breathing issues

Back pain




Yoga pose contraindications: 

Don’t practice Ardha Matsyendrasana if you have any of the following health conditions: 

Knee injury

Neck injury

Shoulder injury

Back injury

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Lucy Edge 

is a yoga advocate and writer with three yoga books to her name, including the beloved travel memoir Yoga School Dropout. She writes regularly for the national press, has authored over 150 guides to types of yoga and yoga poses, discovered nearly 250 proven health benefits of yoga through her painstaking classification of 300 clinical studies, and collected more than 500 personal testimonials to the real life benefits of yoga. She is also the creator of our yoga shop – YogaClicks.Store – handpicking yoga brands that are beautifully made by yogis committed to environmental and social sustainability.