As a yoga teacher, I’m often asked about my favourite pose. It may come as a surprise, but it’s not an inverted or advanced asana. In fact, yoga asana doesn’t have to be complicated to reap incredible benefits. Being particularly passionate about yoga for women’s health, I enjoy practicing poses that help support a women’s menstrual cycle.

I have plenty of “favourite poses”, but I love to practice spinal twists. Gentle twists on the spine not only feel amazing, but are hugely beneficial on the body!

Ardha Matsyendrasana, Half Lord of The Fishes

Half Lord of The Fishes is a beautiful twist that really helps to open the body. This twist will lift and open the chest, tones the spinal nerves and muscles along the back, and works deeply into the oblique abdominals. Therefore, those that suffer hay fever, bronchitis, slipped disc and stiffness of the back may find some relief with this twist.

What I particularly love about this pose is how it can help to correct digestive problems. A sluggish digestive system can contribute to hormonal imbalances in the female body. In this twist, the intestinal organs receive a gentle wringing which can help to improve detoxification and metabolism.

Half Lord of the Fishes may help relieve bloat, fluid retention and menstrual cramping. It tones the adrenal glands, kidneys, gall bladder and reproductive organs. This pose is particularly beneficial for those suffering stress, anxiety, diabetes, menstrual and urinary tract disorders and hormonal imbalances.

There are some precautions to consider.  Women who are two–three months pregnant, or more should avoid twisting poses. It is also advised to practice under expert guidance if you suffer peptic ulcers, hernia or hyperthyroidism.

In the beginners variation of this spinal twist (first image), the supporting leg is extended. As you become familiar with the pose and the ability to keep the spine lifted, fold the front leg back in towards the body (second image).