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WORKOUT FOR THE WEEK: ​Half Lord of the Fishes

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Half Lord of the Fishes

In our last entry for Workout for the Week, we talked about the Mountain Pose. Hearing the name of this yoga pose, I can’t help but think about arguably the most popular TV series to date, Game of Thrones. This makes me mentally (and giddily) run down all the characters’ cool nicknames in my head, names such as The Mountain, The Hound, The Kingslayer, The Dragon Queen, Mother of Dragons, The Unburnt, and Breaker of Chains. It makes me want to invent my own cool Game of Thrones nickname if I were to include myself in the fantastic world created by George R. R. Martin. Perhaps one good suggestion for a cool Game of Thrones nickname can also be taken from another yoga pose. I am talking about the Ardha Matsyendrasana, which literally translates to Half Lord of the Fishes (aka. Seated Twist Pose). What’s extra cool about this asana is how it actually poses health benefits in addition to a memorable character name.

According to the editors of Yoga Journal, the Ardha Matsyendrasana benefits the body in several ways. It stimulates the liver and kidneys and stretches the shoulders, hips, and neck. The Half Lord of the Fishes pose energizes the spine, relieves menstrual discomfort, fatigue, sciatica, and backache, and is therapeutic for asthma and infertility. Traditional texts say that Ardha Matsyendrasana increases appetite, destroys most deadly diseases, and awakens kundalini which, according to the concept of Dharma, is a form of primal energy said to be located at the base of the spine. Before trying out this yoga pose, be sure to read the Contraindications and Cautions and Beginner’s Tip.

Contraindications and Cautions

Back or spine injury: Perform this pose only with the supervision of an experienced teacher.

Beginner’s Tip

In this version of the pose, the opposite-side arm is wrapped around the outside of the raised-leg upper thigh. This may be impractical, and potentially harmful, for beginning students. Be sure to sit up well on a blanket support and for the time being just wrap your arm around the raised leg and hug the thigh to your torso.

How to Do It

  • 1.Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, buttocks supported on a folded blanket. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling.
  • 2.Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together.
  • 3.Press the inner right foot very actively into the floor, release the right groin, and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone into the floor.
  • 4.You can turn your head in one of two directions: Continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at the right foot.
  • 5.With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, pushing the fingers against the floor to help. Twist a little more with every exhalation. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don't concentrate it in the lower back. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time. Watch a video demonstration of this pose.

You can choose to modify or deepen the pose using props such as a wall and even invite a partner to help you with the pose. Either way, be sure to ease your way into it and listen to your body as you perform the asana. One thing is for certain, though. Through time and with enough practice, you can twist your way to a more toxin-free body. (For variations of the Seated Twist Pose, you can check out Liz Rosenblum’s article from DoYouYoga here.)





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