One asana I've become fascinated with lately ( I seem to go through phases, baddha konasana, bharadvajrasana, mudras like maha mudra...) is Krishnamacharya's Ardha Matsyendrasana 'no1'. I love this Ardha badha padmasana matsyendrasana version and especially the pictures of Krishnamacharya presenting it at the age of 84.
In Ashtanga we tend to be more familiar with 'no2'. were one leg is bent rather than straight. This first version then seems simpler but is actually quite challenging, notice how deeply Krishnamacharya is twisted into the asana with his hand on his shin. I find the experience of practicing this version quite profound, was this perhaps the original.
Sri Sribhashyam in his book Emergence of yoga indicates Krishnamacharya would employ Ujjayi breathing and Kantha (back of throat) or nasagra (top of nose) as the internal focal point (drishti?) in his own practice.
31. ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA - Section A.
1. Sit erect, with both legs stretched in front.
2. Bend one leg, say the right, at the knees, and place the foot of the right leg on the left
thigh, so that the heel of the right foot is as near the naval as possible. The tendency of the stretched leg to twist to the left should be resisted. The foot of the left leg should be perpendicular to the ground. The knees should not be more than 12 inches apart.
3. Exhale slowly, and twist the trunk to the left, keeping the spine erect. Take the left hand behind the back so that the fingers of the left hand may catch hold of the right leg at the shin, just above the ankle.
4. Twist the head to the left so that the chin is above the left shoulder.
5. The right hand is stretched and the outside of the left foot is caught hold of by the
palm of the right hand. The fingers of the right hand should touch the sole of the left foot. In this position the shoulder blades and right arms will be in a straight line.
6. The eyes should gaze at the tip of the nose in the case of married people. In the case of those who are unmarried the gaze may be to the midpoint of the eyebrows.
7. Take deep breaths. Not more than three at the beginning stages. The number may be slowly increased to twelve as practice advances.
8. Repeat on the other side.
Note: It is important that the counter pose should be done soon after the above asana is completed. The counter pose BADDHA PADMASANA, will be described later. ( see end of post).
32. ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA - Section B
1. Sit upright, with both legs stretched in front. Bend one of the legs, say the right, at the knee and bring the heel below the seat. The outside of the knee and the thigh should touch the ground. Bend the left leg and place the left foot by the side of the right knee and to the right of it. The left foot will be firmly placed flat on the ground and left foreleg will be perpendicular to the ground.
2. While exhaling, twist the trunk to the left and bring the stretched right arms so that the armpit is above the left thigh and the left knee touches the outside of the right upper arms and fingers of the right hand catch hold of the left foot.
Note: It should be carefully noted that to avoid danger to the elbow of the right arm, the right elbow reaches a position below the left knee as low as possible. See the illustration and note the position carefully.
3. The left arm is taken round the back, so that fingers touch the right thigh. Care should be taken that the spine is kept erect.
4. Turn the head to the left so that the chin is near the left shoulder.
5. Take three deep breaths.
6. Repeat on the other side.
Note: The deep breaths should be taken without retention of breath and without strain to the lungs.
As a variation, to make the asana somewhat easier, the heel of the right leg instead of being placed below the seat, may be placed a bit to the left so that balancing is easier in the final position.
Benefits: This is of special benefit to those suffering from stomach complaints. This rapidly reduces the waistline.
|Pattabhi Jois Late 1930s-40s|
|Purna matsyendrasana on right|
No instructions in Yoga Makaranda for the more advanced Purna Matsyendrasana ( it is however in Krishnamacharya's Yogasangalu list of proficient asana) but here's Jessica Walden with an excellent tutorial.
|On Ramaswami's 2010 Vinyasa Krama TT, |
unfortunately this was just after a very large lunch.
Baddha padmasana and Yoga Mudra
Krishnamacharya mentions above that baddha padmasana is a counter to Ardha Matsyendrasana
from Yoga Makaranda Part II
35. BADDHA PADMASANA
This asana is the counter pose to the ARDHA MATSYENDRASANA - Section A, and should be done immediately after that asana.
1. Sit upright, with both legs stretched in front. Bend one of the legs, say the right, at the knee and place the foot on the left thigh as high as possible. The heel should be as near the navel as possible. Now bend the left leg at the knee and place the left foot on the right thigh as high as possible, and the heel as near the navel as possible. The knees should be as close as possible and touch the ground.
2. Take the left arm around the back and catch hold of the toes of the left foot by the right hand. Next, take the right hand behind the back and catch hold of the toes of the right foot by the fingers of the right hand.
Note: Which hand is taken round first is important. In the position described above, it will be observed that the LEFT leg is crossed over the right leg, and it is the LEFT arm that is taken round the round back first, to catch hold of the toes. When the asana is repeated on the other side, the right leg will be over the left leg and right arm will be taken round the back first.
3. Chin lock, chest forward. In the case of those who are married, the gaze should be to the tip of the nose, and in the case of the others the gaze should be to the midpoint of the eyebrows.
4. Take deep breaths. The deep breaths in this asana can with advantage be with control both after inhalation and after exhalation i.e., both ANTHER AND BAHYA Kumbhakam. The retention of breath, in the beginning stages, should not be more than 5 seconds after inhalation and not more than two seconds after exhalation. The breathing in and breathing out should be as thin and as long possible, with rubbing sensation in the throat. The number of rounds can be as many as it is conveniently possible without strain. 5. Get back to the position in step (1) and repeat on the other side.
This is one of the asanas specifically recommended for doing Pranayama. When a large number of Pranayamas are done there is a feeling of hunger, but it is a false sensation. Benefits: This benefits all parts of the body, reduces the waistline, strengthens the lungs and the blood vessels.
from Yoga Makaranda (Mysore 1934) Part I p103-105
18 Baddhapadmasana (Figure 4.52, 4.53, 4.54, 4.55)
Place the right foot on top of the left thigh and the left foot on top of the right thigh. Take the hands behind the back and tightly clasp the big toe of the right foot with the first three fingers of the right hand and tightly clasp the big toe of the left foot with the first three fingers of the left hand.
Press the chin firmly against the chest. Keep the gaze fixed on the midbrow. Sit down, keeping the rest of the body straight. This has the name baddhapadmasana. This asana must be repeated on the other side (that is, first place the left foot on top of the right thigh and then the right foot on top of the left thigh) in order to exercise both sides of the body.
This has 16 vinyasas. The 8th and 9th vinyasas are the asana sthiti. The other vinyasas are like pascimottanasana.
Study the pictures (Figures 4.52, 4.53) and learn how to keep the gaze. In this asana, one must do puraka kumbhaka. Only in yoga mudra sthiti should one do recaka. This sthiti consists of two forms — so study the pictures (Figures 4.54, 4.55) carefully.
Benefit: It will cure all diseases of the lower abdomen. Pregnant women should not do this asana.