Matsyendrasana can be a little intimidating for newbies.
Thus, we have divided the entire practice into easy-to-follow steps, like Warm-Up Poses, Main Posture Steps, Related Alignment Cues, and Relax Poses.
So, once you feel ready, let’s dive straight into the practice!
Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Matsyendrasana
Warming up the spine and pelvis is necessary to avoid any severe injuries or cramps post-workout. Here are some warm-up yoga poses for you to try:
1. Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose) - Activate your glutes by sitting in the center of your mat, legs bent from the knees, and soles touching together.
Make sure your knees are close to the ground, palms are gripping both feet, and feet are close to the groin. To increase blood circulation rapidly, you can also bend the torso forward.
2. Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose) - Warming up your side body is mandatory while performing a spinal side stretch. So, get into Wide-Leg Mountain Pose. Breathe in, roll your shoulders, and bring the arms to your back.
Join your palms together behind your back in Anjali Mudra. Turn the feet, abs, and chest to your right side, exhale, and fold your body forward onto your right leg.
Once your head touches the right knee, hold the pose here and feel your glutes, obliques, and hamstrings activating. Hold this pose on each side for a few seconds until the lower body is thoroughly warmed up.
Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Matsyendrasana
The following are steps to practice the half lord of the fishes pose:
Step 1- Begin by sitting in Dandasana or Staff Pose. Keep the spine straight, palms slightly behind the buttocks, and core tight. Take a few deep breaths here.
Step 2- Bend your right leg at the knee and place your right foot close to the outer edge of the left knee. Ensure you maintain the body in the center of the mat.
Step 3- Fold the left leg into a half lotus pose, bring the left foot close to your right glute, and extend the left foot by pointing the toes.
Step 4- Inhale and extend your left arm to the sky. Next, twist and lower your left arm with an exhale, ensuring your left shoulder rests against the right knee.
Step 5- Engage the core muscles to hold the right big toe with your left fingers.
Step 6- Next, gently turn your head to the back and align your gaze with the right shoulder.
Step 7- Inhale deep, wrap your right arm around the waist, and allow the ribs and spine to twist.
Step 8- Then exhale, reach the right arm all the way around and push into the left upper thigh muscle with your right fingers.
Step 9- Hold this pose for a few deep breaths. Finally—release, relax, and repeat the same on the other side.
Inhale - When any one arm is extending overhead, or you want to engage the muscles.
Exhale - When any one shoulder is placed against the knee, or any one arm is wrapped around the waist.
Inhale & Exhale - While transitioning or while holding the seated spinal twist pose for a longer duration.
Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold the Matsyendrasana for 5 to 10 deep breaths on each side.
Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold the Matsyendrasana for 30 to 60 seconds on each side.
Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind
Before getting started with the Matsyendrasana practice, kindly read the following posture and alignment tips:
Don’t round the spine - Many practitioners usually round their spine instead of leaning to the side. Matsyendrasana mandates the upper body to lean very slightly so that you can hold the big front toe.
After that, straighten your back muscles to reap more promising benefits.
In case holding the front-big toe compromises your spinal alignment, you don’t need to grip the big toe. Just keep your hand nearby the front foot to feel the twisting motion.
Place the sole on the ground - If you have very tight glutes, placing your bent leg’s foot flat on the floor — over the other leg can be challenging.
Thus, perform deep hip opening poses before you get into the main Matsyendrasana practice.
Don’t twist from your shoulders - Twisting from the shoulders will only cause unnecessary pressure in your lower back.
Therefore, start by rotating your lower back and ribs; then your spine and shoulders. Lastly, twist your neck and head, following with your gaze aligned in the same direction.
Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Matsyendrasana
Done with your Matsyendrasana practice? — Now, let’s unwind your back and glute muscles with the following relaxing yoga poses:
1. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend Pose) - As you exit from the Matsyendrasana pose, get your legs back in the staff pose. Inhale deep and close your eyes to relax the spine.
Next, inhale deep by raising both arms over your head and joining the palms in Anjali Mudra.
Finally, exhale and bend the torso onto your legs. Relax the forehead over the knees and extend both arms along with your shins.
Unwind your lower back, ribs, glutes, spine, and shoulders in this pose for 3 to 5 minutes until you feel relaxed.
2. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose) - Again, start from the Staff Pose. Inhale, engage the core and begin to lie down on your back, vertebrate-by-vertebrate.
Next, bend the legs and join the soles of your feet together. Inhale deep, pull your navel into the ground, and rest your arms over the head.
If you still feel any tension is left in the body, just close your eyes focus on that area, keep on breathing consciously, and de-stress that area.