Purna Matsyendrasana (Full Lord of The Fishes Pose): Benefits, How to Do

Purna Matsyendrasana
Image Source: Canva
Sanskrit PronunciationPurna Matsyendrasana
(Poor-Na MAT-see-en-DRAH-suh-nuh)
MeaningMatsya = Fish / Endra = Lord / asana = pose
Pose TypeSitting and twisting pose
Pose Leveladvance
AnatomyErector spine, gluteus maximus, rectus abdominis
Other NamesLord of the fishes poses, Purna Matsyendrasana, Full spinal twist
Purna Matsyendrasana information

Purna Matsyendrasana is a full spinal twisting posture and the deeper version of Ardha Matsyendrasana. It is performed in a sitting posture. The challenges, balance, stretch, and strength that the pose requires are enough to categorize it as an advanced pose.

To perform the pose, fold your legs so that the right foot lies near the left thigh’s root. The left foot is placed across the right thigh outside the left knee. Now the spine is laterally twisted with the left hand wrapped around the back to hold the right ankle. The right shoulder is brought above the left knee pressing it out to hold the left foot with the right hand.

The benefits of the posture are as manifold as the steps involved. It stretches and strengthens the arms, legs, hips, abdomen, and spine.

Besides all the physical health benefits, it is a great posture to find a way towards enlightenment.

Meaning and Etymology

In Sanskrit, “Matsya” refers to “fish”, “Indra” means “lord or king”, and “asana” means “pose”. Therefore in English, it is referred to as the lord of the fishes pose.

It is named after the saint of Nath cult and founder of hatha yoga, Yogi Matsyendranath.

Mythological tale associated with this pose

Lord Shiva once went to an island with Parvati and was revealing the mysteries of yoga to her. Along with Parvati, a fish by the shore also grasped all the yogic knowledge by Shiva.

Soon Shiva realized about the fish and gave it a divine form of Matsyendranath. It was believed that saint Matsyendranath was a hybrid having the upper body of a human and the lower half as fish. He went to Earth to spread the knowledge of Yoga and helped people to find a spiritual path.

This posture is all about bringing awareness to the spine and breathing. It benefits the body by promoting holistic health. The breathing is used to elevate the gastric activity and thereby improving the root of the heath, i.e. improved digestion, increased appetite, and eliminating negative forces.

Purna Matsyendrasana Practice guide

Purna matsyendrasana practice guide
Image Source: Canva

Contraindications

  • Avoid the pose if you have back pain, spinal ailments, or hernia.
  • People with peptic ulcers must avoid it.
  • Do not perform this asana in case of an injury in the spine, abdomen, shoulders, knees, or ankles.
  • Pregnant and menstruating women must refrain from this pose.
  • Do not try this pose with pain or stiffness in the neck.
  • It should not be practiced if you suffer from sciatica.
  • Patients of hyperthyroidism must not practice matsyendrasana.
  • It should be avoided if you’ve had recent surgery of the heart, abdomen, or brain.

Preparatory poses

How to Do Purna Matsyendrasana

  1. Begin with sitting in dandasana.
  2. Flex the right knee to bring the right foot to the root of the left thigh.
  3. Then bend the left knee so that it lies closer to the chest.
  4. Exhale, twist the trunk to the left and wrap the left arm around the back.
  5. Hold your right ankle with the left hand coming from behind the back.
  6. Lift the left foot off the floor and place it outside the right knee.
  7. Stay there for a few breaths.
  8. Exhale and further twist the trunk to the left so that the right shoulder lies above the left knee.
  9. Push the left knee out using the right elbow and hold the left foot with the right hand.
  10. Twist the neck to the left shoulder and raise the chin up.
  11. Keep your eyes toward the ceiling.
  12. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
  13. Release the pose by lifting the left foot over the right thigh and stretch the left leg to the floor.
  14. Then release the grip of the left hand on the right ankle
  15. Stretch both the legs on the floor and relax in dandasana.
  16. Repeat these steps by switching the legs’ position.

Precautions

  • Avoid slouching of the back while holding the pose.
  • Ensure that the buttocks are grounded throughout the asana.
  • When you bring the foot to the alternate thigh root press the heel against the navel. Do not leave the foot on the thigh.
  • Rather than straining the neck use the core muscles to perform the twist.
  • Do not perform it by collapsing on the chest. Keep your shoulders square to open the chest and heart.

Follow-up poses

Props and Modifications

  • Yoga strap – Tie a yoga strap around the lower foot that is pressed against the navel. As you wrap the alternative hand to the back to reach the lower foot. You can hold the strap that gives an increased length to your hand.
  • Yoga block – Place a block under your hip with a raised knee. It helps to open the groins and eases the overlapping of the foot to the alternate thigh.

Variations

  1. Matsyendrasana arm variation – After bringing the right foot to the left thigh and left foot across the right knee. Pressing the right elbow against the outer left knee needle your right hand under the left knee. Wrapping the left arm around the back clasp the right hand or wrist.
  2. Ardha matsyendrasana Variation (Hand up) – It is an easier variation. Sit bringing the left foot around the right hip and right foot outside the left knee. Then, twisting the upper torso pass the left arm around the outer edge of the right knee. Bend the left elbow keeping it to the right upper thigh raise the fingertip upwards. Look past the right shoulder.
  3. Ardha matsyendrasana III – Sit with legs and front arm position similar to matsyendrasana. The hand of the arm that wraps around the back, rests on the waist of the alternate side.

Therapeutic Benefits

  1. Matsyendrasana stimulates the pancreas by squeezing and massaging it. This improves its functioning, hence it helps cure diabetes.
  2. Due to the stimulation of abdominal organs, it is therapeutic to treat constipation, indigestion, etc.
  3. It is beneficial to treat drooping shoulders and improve posture.
  4. This pose is beneficial to get rid of neck stiffness and headache.
  5. It is also an intense stretch for the hips and thighs. Hence is beneficial to treat sciatica.
  6. It also relieves the chronic lower back pain, lumbago.

Purna Matsyendrasana Benefits

1. Tones the spine

The stretch of matsyendrasana expands the vertebrae and increases the blood flow to the spinal muscles and nerves. It enhances the elasticity in the spine and makes the back muscles supple.

2. Stretches the leg muscles

The leg muscles are also intensely stretched while holding the pose. It brings a fresh supply of blood to calves. hamstrings, knees, and ankles. This expansion of leg muscles and improved blood circulation makes them stronger.

3. Enhances arm strength

To complete the twist of the pose, hands play a vital role. As the hand is used as a lever to increase the twist. It improves the flexibility of the shoulders, elbows, and wrist. This strengthens the arms muscles.

4. Facilitates digestion

Performing matsyendrasana produces a lateral twist in the spine. It also involves the twisting and stretching of the abdominal muscles. Due to the expansion and compression of the abdomen, the digestive organs are stimulated.

5. Opens the chest

The chest muscles are also expanded while performing the pose. This increases the lungs’ volume and brings more oxygen in. This helps increase breathing capacity.

7. Elevates detoxification process

This pose is beneficial to stimulate kidneys. As the kidneys are benefitted, it eventually promotes blood purification and helps in eliminating toxins. Hence, improves the detoxification process.

8. Boosts immunity

The internal organs like the liver, spleen, and adrenal gland, are rejuvenated doing this pose. It regulates metabolism and hormonal balance. Thus, it uplifts the overall health which in turn enhances immunity.

9. Spiritual benefits

This full-twisting posture stimulates two energetic chakras. It involves the activation of sacral (Svadhisthana) and root (Muladhara) chakra. The lateral twisting of the spine along with activating the energy chakras awakens kundalini.

This is beneficial to get rid of all body ailments and diseases. It eventually turns the practitioner towards enlightenment.

Conclusion

Purna matsyendrasana is a must-to-do yoga pose that has several benefits as it is all one can do to achieve holistic health. It seems tough but the benefits, cure, and relief that it offers make the practice worth trying.

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