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Pose of the month: Ardha Matsyendrasana

Half Kingfish pose has all the benefits of a twist – good for digestion, helps keep the spine mobile, gives a sense of “rinsing” us out – with the added benefits of a good hip stretch.

Start by bending your left knee in front of you, with the thigh lying on the floor and knee pointing forward. Place your right foot on the outside of that left knee, sole of the foot on the ground.

Your sit bones should be evenly weighted on the ground, but if you have tight hips you may find this difficult. Sitting up on one or two blocks, or a folded up blanket, will assist here.

Your left arm assists with the twist. Either wrap your elbow crease around the front of the left knee, or bring the elbow to the outside of the knee. In either case, you are trying to draw that knee to the centre. Reach your right hand and place it on the ground behind your right hip.

On your inhale, lengthen through the spine first: reach the crown of the head up and the tailbone down. Draw your belly to the spine, in and up. Then on your exhale, twist your upper body to the right, looking over your right shoulder. Another alternative is to straighten the bottom leg rather than bend it.

Another version is to bind the arms: your left arm reaches to the outside of the right thigh but then bends around the front of the knee and reaches back towards your left side. Meanwhile, your right hand reaches behind your back and clasps the fingers of your left hand. This takes very open shoulder joints – if not right for you, you can simply wrap your right hand behind your back.

Stay for 3-5 breaths, lengthening the spine on each inhale and deepening the twist on the exhale.

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