Ardha Matsyandrasana II is one of the most balanced twists in yoga, because it respects and echoes the natural curves of the spine. As a result, it’s one of the few twists that can be held for up to five minutes. Because it’s a truly neutral pose, it’s OK to practice ardha matsyandrasana II after backbends.
There’s a big internal rotation of the straight leg in the pose, so you can revolve deeply into the twist. You’re sitting evenly on your two sitting bones, which gives the twist a solid foundation, as well as heaven-to-earth energy, or apana vayu.
Excellent preparations for ardha matsyandrasana II are lotus preps [see Focus Friday June 5], open twists, and poses that have internal-rotation of both arms (reverse prayer, interlacing fingers behind the back, shoulder stand arms, and other binding poses). Binding is easier if your torso is narrow and your arms long. If you can’t bind, just grab your shirt, your thigh, your shin, or use a strap. Ardha matsyandrasana II is a beautiful pose. I’m including photographs of my own version, as well as Mr. Iyengar’s, so that you can see both a master and an novice.
If there are any specific poses that you would like to see on Focus Friday, don’t be shy. Let me know.