Half Lord of the Fishes Pose

Half lord of the fishes pose is a seated and twisting pose found in yoga. The half variation is the most common version of the pose taught. There is a full variation of the pose, which is known as Paripurna Matseyandrasana in Sanskrit. This pose isn’t taught in classes and isn’t often seen because it’s an extremely deep and difficult pose.

Not many people can do the full variation of half lord of the fishes pose, which is why half lord of the fishes was brought into classes. It’s commonly viewed as the main lord of the fishes pose because of how often it is taught. This variation is easier and a lot more accessible.

The basics of half lord of the fishes pose

Half lord of the fishes is a twisting pose, which means it targets the shoulders, hips, neck, and spine. Like most twists, it’s not particularly difficult. This makes it a beginner level pose, unlike the full variation of it. The full variation is an advanced pose that is not so accessible.

Half lord of the fishes also has a similar name to the full variation in Sanskrit. It’s known as Ardha Matsyendrasana, which directly translates to half fish ruler pose. It’s named this because of the interesting shape of the pose. It looks similar to an interestingly shaped fish. For half lord of the fishes you have to twist deeply in order to feel the benefits and truly unwind.

The benefits of practicing half lord of the fishes pose

With all twisting poses, the biggest benefit is an improvement in digestion. Half lord of the fishes is the same, it stimulates metabolism and digestion. This also makes it a great pose for women when they are on their period because it helps relieve the discomfort that can often be felt in the lower abdomen.

Twisting the spine can also be really good for spinal flexibility and improve the mobility of the spine. The pose also gives a really good stretch to the neck, shoulders, and hips. It’s a gentle pose that doesn’t require any strength, which makes it relaxing. It’s a pose that eases anxiety and cools the body down.

How to do half lord of the fishes pose

Step by step instructions for getting into the pose

  1. Begin in a seated pose with your legs out straight in front of you. Lengthen the spine and ensure that you’re lifting out of the lower back the entire time. Think of reaching your head towards the ceiling to lift up.
  2. From here, start with the right leg first and cross it over the left leg. Bring the soul of the right foot flat on the mat next to the left thigh. Ensure that the right knee is pointing towards the ceiling.
  3. Keeping the spine lengthened, start to bend the left knee. Bring the left heel in towards the right side of the glutes. The whole of the left leg is on the mat.
  4. Square off the hips and make sure both glutes are seated on the mat, whilst still maintaining a straight spine.
  5. Take a deep inhale in to lift up the left hand whilst placing the right hand behind the right glutes. On the exhale hook the left elbow behind the right knee. On every inhale lengthen the spine upwards and, on the exhale, try to twist a bit deeper. Either keep the gaze in line with the neck or try to look over the right shoulder.
  6. Stay here for 5-10 breaths remembering to breathe deeply and slowly before gently releasing from the pose and trying it out on the other side.

Common mistakes made when doing the pose

The biggest mistake people make when doing half lord of the fishes is that they twist too deep. They hook their elbow too low down on the knee and end up pinching their spine or feeling pain in their back body. This is unnecessary, there is no need to twist so deeply. A gentle and easy twist will still receive the same benefits, twisting deeper won’t allow the person to feel more benefits.

Another mistake that people make when doing lord of the fishes is rounding their spine in the twist. It’s important to keep the spine lengthened whilst twisting otherwise the benefits of the pose won’t be received. Rounding the back will weaken the spine and make the twist uncomfortable. The pose requires sitting up tall and twisting for it to work.

Beginners’ tips

For those who are trying out lord of the fishes for the first time, take it slowly. This pose has a lot of elements to it, and it can get a bit tricky when trying to go into it. Break the pose down step by step. Start from the ground up, so begin with the legs. Once the position of the legs has been achieved then begin to twist.

Whilst in the pose, it’s vital that you breathe deeply. A shallow breath will constrict the pose and can often make it uncomfortable. Remember to lengthen the body and then twist, instead of twisting and only remembering once in the twist to lengthen the spine.


If someone has been injured in their knee, hip, spine, shoulders, or neck then they shouldn’t be doing half lord of the fishes pose. Similarly, if anyone is experiencing pain in these areas then they should also avoid the pose. It can be an intense pose if someone is experiencing pain. 

Always listen to your body and what it is/isn’t needing. Never push past any pain, back off if any is felt. Consult a doctor or physician before doing any physical exercise or trying out a yoga pose.


The full variation of half lord of the fishes is extremely difficult and requires a person to be already flexible. This often means that the person needs to be experienced in yoga and is in a safe place to try the pose out. Full lord of the fishes is also a hip stretch, which means it requires hip flexibility as well as a lot more spinal flexibility to be achieved.

An easier variation of half lord of the fishes is a simple seated twist. This can be done in any cross-legged position and doesn’t require the body to twist as much. It’s also a lot easier to get into and hold.

Kate Viljoen

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References :

[0](2015, April 12). How to do Half Lord of The Fish Pose. Everyday Yoga. Retrieved 19 January 2022, from https://www.everydayyoga.com/blogs/guides/how-to-do-half-lord-of-the-fishes-pose-in-yoga

[1]A, Pizer. (2021, January 26). How to do Half Lord of the Fishes Pose in Yoga. Very Well Fit. Retrieved 19 January 2022, from https://www.verywellfit.com/half-lord-of-the-fishes-yoga-pose-instructions-3567114