«Ardha Matsyendrasana» or the «Twisted Seat» is the 9th Asana of the twelve Basic Postures in Hatha Yoga. «Ardha Matsyendrasana» is an Asana for flexibility of the spine and mind. It follows after the «Arch» or «Position of the child».
1.1 Practical Instructions (excerpt from a Complete Yoga Beginners Lesson)
«Twisted Seat» of a Yoga Lesson: Sukadev instructs you to the «Twisted Seat» and shows you how to set up and practice the Posture.
By rotating the body, the spine becomes laterally flexible, the sympathetic nervous system are strengthened and the back muscles are massaged. «Ardha Matsyendrasana» generally cures nervous ailments. The massage experienced by the abdominal organs removes toxins produced during digestion. The Asana regulates the secretion of the adrenal glands, liver and pancreas and has a beneficial effect on the kidneys.
Stretched muscles: Gluteus, Obliquus and Transversus Abdomini (oblique abdominal muscles), Latissimus (broad back muscles), Lumbar Muscles, Pectoralis (chest muscles).
Strengthened muscles: Latissimus, Obliquus and Transversus Abdomini (oblique abdominal muscles), Lumbar Muscles (each on the opposite side from the stretched muscles).
The tendency of the vertebrae to grow together, which can lead to inflammation and calcification, are counteracted.
«Ardha Matsyendrasana» is one of the most energetically important exercises. «Ardha Matsyendrasana» activates the solar plexus, opens the «Sushumna» (subtle spine). Addressed Chakras are the «Muladhara», the «Ajna» and the «Sahasrara Chakra».
«Ardha Matsyendrasana» relieves stress, strengthens the nerves, calms and harmonizes. «Ardha Matsyendrasana» gives the strength to remain in inner balance even when external circumstances change; to maintain inner dignity even when adapting to external circumstances; to remain true to one's ideals even when responding to and reaching out to others.
«Ardha» means halfway or half. This is a half posture. The Asana takes its name from the Rishi or Yogi Matsyendra, who was the first to teach the postures of Hatha Yoga to his students. Matsyendra is said to have been a disciple of Shivas. Once Shiva went away to a desert island. There he taught Parvati the mysteries of Yoga. However, it happened that a fish, which was near the shore, overheard the teachings of Lord Shiva. Shiva noticed this. Since his heart was full of grace and mercy, he sprinkled water on this yogi-fish. Immediately, thanks to Shiva's mercy, the fish became a «Siddha-Yogi» with a divine body. This Yogi in the fish body was called Matsyendra.
In «Paschimottanasana» and «Halasana» the spine are bent forward. «Dhanurasana», «Bhujangasana» and «Salabhasana» are the «counter-postures» to this and bend the spine backward. This is not enough. It must also be rotated and stretched from side to side. This is the only way to ensure perfect mobility in the spine. For this purpose, «Matsyendrasana» is perfect, twisting the spine to the sides. Hatha Yogis begin with this posture when giving practical lessons to Yoga students.
Put the left heel near the anus and under the male sex. It can touch the perineum. Do not allow the heel to move away from this place. The perineum is located between the anus and the external sex organs. Bend the right knee and ankle to the base of the left thigh and keep the right foot calmly on the ground, very close to the left hip joint. Place the left arm so that the left armpit is over the vertically bent right knee. Now push the knee back a little so that it touches the back of the armpit. Grasp the left knee with the palm of your left hand. Then, while applying light pressure with the left shoulder joint, slowly turn you extremely to the right, as far as you can. Also turn your face as far to the right as possible. Bring it in line with the shoulder. Swing your right arm behind your back. Grasp the left thigh with the right hand. Remain in the position for 5 to 15 seconds. Keep the spine very straight and upright. Do not bend you forward. In the same way you can also turn to the left. This completes the spinal rotation.
This Asana increases appetite by stimulating the digestive fire. It destroys terrible diseases. It awakens the «Kundalini» and causes a steady free flow in the «Chandra-Nadi». It is said that the moon above the root of the palate has its physical equivalent. From it comes the cool life-giving nectar ambrosia, which is consumed by mixing with the digestive fire. But this Asana prevents that.
It keeps the spine flexible and gives an excellent massage to the abdominal organs. Lumbago and any other form of muscular rheumatism of the back muscles can find healing this way. The nerve endings of the spine and the sympathetic nervous system are stimulated in this way. In this way, sufficient blood is provided. This Asana supports the effect of «Paschimottanasana».
By first turning to the right side during the «Half Twisted Seat», one thereby opens the downward running large intestine on the left side of the body. Through the subsequent counter-movement to the left, the continuous intestine is further activated. Thus one supports also still the activities of the abdominal organs. By the pressure of the set up knee to the belly and the deep breath movements one treats oneself additionally an abdominal organ massage.
Another explanation says that by first turning to the right, one turns to the past. By turning to the left afterwards, one turns to the future.