ardha = half
matsya = fish
indra = ruler, lord
All parts of the torso can contribute to this twist—both right and left sides of the front and both right and left sides of the back, at different layers of muscle. The spine has the most balanced rotation when in neutral extension.
You can fake the twisting action of this pose by overmobilizing the scapula and allowing them to adduct (the back one) and abduct (the front one) excessively. When this happens you see the appearance of rotation, but not much actual movement in the spine. Because the shoulder girdle has more range of motion in this direction than the thoracic structures have, it is frequently a more intense spinal twist when the arms are placed in a simple, nonbound position.
If you would like to clarify the action of the spine, enter this pose without using the arms so the maximum safe action is found in the spine. The leverage of the arms can come in last as a deepening action. Overuse of the arms can direct too much force into vulnerable parts of the spine, particularly T11 and T12.
Another factor that contributes to the intensity of the spinal twisting action of this pose is the arrangement of the legs, which greatly limits rotational movements in the pelvis—and in fact counterrotates the pelvis away from the rotation of the spine.
Sage Matsyendra was a renowned teacher of yoga who, according to legend, developed this pose.
BY: NEHA WASAN