Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist). Stage 1: Starting Position

Sit on the floor with both legs stretched in front of the body. Bend the right leg and place the right foot on the outside of the left knee. Adjust the position of the right foot so that the sole is flat on the floor with the ankle in touch with the side of the left knee; the foot and toes should point forwards. Place the left hand on the left side of the body; this will act as support for the next body adjustment. While leaning on the left arm, fold the left leg backwards to the right.

Place the left heel so that it is in contact with the right buttock. The legs should now be in the position as shown in the above figure. Then slowly and gently twist the trunk to the right. Place both hands on the floor on the right side of the body, making the arms straight. Then try to grasp the right ankle with the left hand; don’t strain. The left arm should be adjusted so that it is straight and so that the back of the arm is in contact with the right knee and calf; the right knee should be as close as possible to the left armpit. To take the position described it will be necessary to twist the trunk a little more to the right and to push the right thigh towards the abdomen. The picture shows the position of the left arm very clearly. If the left arm is in the correct location then you will feel that it acts as a lever against the right leg; this leverage automatically tends to twist the trunk even further to the right. Place the right arm behind the back, pushing the hand either towards the top of the spine or towards the outside of the left thigh. This is the starting position.

Stage 2: final position

Make the trunk as straight and vertical as is comfortable. Relax the whole body, especially the back. The back should remain totally passive throughout the entire execution of the asana. Inhale deeply and then with exhalation slowly twist the trunk further to the right. Remember that this torsion of the back should be applied by levering the left arm against the right leg; there is no reason to use the back muscles even slightly.

Try to twist the trunk as much as is comfortable, without strain. Then turn the head in the same direction as the trunk so that you face over your shoulders. This is the final pose. Make sure that the trunk and head are upright and that the back muscles are relaxed. Breathe slowly and as deeply as is comfortable. Stay in the final position for some time; then return to the starting position and straighten both legs.

Repeat stages 1 and 2 but twisting the body to the left.

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