Definition - What does Matsyendrasana mean?

Matsyendrasana was named after the yogi, Matsyendranath, a student of the Hindu god, Shiva (also known as the adi yogi, or the "first" yogi). Also referred to as purna matsyendrasana, the pose is a complete spinal twist with amazing health benefits.

To enter this pose, the practitioner sits with both legs stretched forward, then places the right foot on the left thigh so that the heel presses against the navel. The torso twists to the left, and the left hand stretches from behind the back to hold the ankle of the right leg. The left foot rests outside of the right thigh, and the right shoulder aligns with the left knee so the right hand can hold the left foot.

The name for this pose is derived from the Sanskrit roots matsya, meaning "fish," and indra, meaning "lord" or king." Matsyendrasana may also be called lord of the fishes pose in English.

Yogapedia explains Matsyendrasana

Regular practice of matsyendrasana is thought to help postpone the signs of aging. The pose also increases spinal flexibility, promotes spinal health, tones the abdominal organs, improves digestion, reduces belly fat, supports the function of adrenal glands, and aids in detoxification.

The mental health benefits of matsyendrasana include:

  • Creates inner awareness
  • Promotes sense of calm
  • Strengthens the nervous system and relieves stress
  • Shields the mind from anger, fear and desire
  • Promotes a sense of acceptance

Practicing matsyendrasana stimulates the manipura (solar plexus) chakra, which radiates vital prana. This chakra is associated with willpower, self-esteem and confidence.

Beginners may want to practice a variation of this pose, called ardha matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose), before moving on to this posture.

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