Bend both legs such that left leg is rested and right leg is not. With left hand, grab the ankle of right leg Twist head in the left direction. Right hand is kept on the waist. Hold and repeat with opposite leg.
Ardha Matsyendrasana (half spinal twist pose)
1. Sit with the legs stretched out in front of the body (dandasana).
2. Bend the right leg and place the right foot flat on the floor on the outside of the left knee.The toes of the right foot should face forward.
3. Bend the left leg and bring the foot around to the right buttock. The outside edge of the foot should be in contact with the floor.
4. Pass the left arm through the space between the chest and the right knee, and place it against the outside of the right leg.
5. Hold the right foot or ankle with the left hand, so that the right knee is close to the left armpit. Sit up as straight as possible.
6. Raise the right arm in front of the body and gaze at the fingertips.
7. Slowly twist to the right, simultaneously moving the arm, trunk and head. Use the left arm as a lever against the right leg to twist the trunk as far as possible without using the back muscles.
8. Follow the tips of the fingers of the right hand with the gaze and look over the right shoulder. Do not strain the back.
9. Bend the right elbow and place the arm around the back of the waist. The back of the right hand should wrap around the left side of the waist.
10. Alternatively, it can be placed as high as possible between the shoulder blades with the fingers pointing up. This arm position enforces the straightness of the spine.
11. Reverse the movements to come out of the posture and repeat on the other side.
Note: While holding, maintain normal breathing.
Breathing: Inhale in the forward position. Exhale while twisting the trunk. Breathe deeply and slowly without strain in the final position. Inhale while returning to the starting position.
Duration: Practice once on each side, gradually increasing the holding time to 1 or 2 minutes on each side of the body or up to 30 breaths.
Physical - on keeping the spine straight and on the movement of the abdomen created by the breath in the final position. Spiritual - on ajna chakra.
Sequence: This asana should be performed after completing a series of forward and backward bending asanas.
Contra-indications: Women more than two or three months pregnant should avoid this practice. People suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia or hyperthyroidism should only practise this pose under expert guidance. People with sciatica or slipped disc may benefit from this asana, but great care should be taken.
Benefits: This asana simultaneously stretches the muscles on one side of the back and abdomen while contracting the muscles on the other side. It tones the nerves of the spine, makes the back muscles supple, relieves lumbago and muscular spasms, and reduces the tendency of adjoining vertebrae to develop osteophytes. When practised with care, it has proved beneficial for mild cases of slipped disc. Ardha matsyendrasana massages the abdominal organs, alleviating digestive ailments. It regulates the secretion of adrenaline and bile and is recommended in the yogic management of diabetes. Under special guidance it is used for the yogic management of sinusitis, hay fever, bronchitis, constipation, colitis, menstrual disorders, urinary tract disorders and cervical spondylitis, as long as it can be performed without any discomfort.
Variation: For beginners and those with stiff bodies the following adjustments to the position may be made: The leg that is placed by the side of the buttock should remain straight and the hand holding the ankle may be wrapped around the opposite thigh, hugging the knee to the chest.