Matsyasana or Fish Pose is an asana. When you look back, Hindu mythology states that Matsya was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Universe. It is said that the earth had become corrupt, and a flood was going to wash away the earth. Vishnu donned the avatar of a fish, called Matsya, and transported all the sages to safety, thus ensuring all their wisdom was preserved.
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. It is best to avoid this pose if you suffer from high or low blood pressure. Also, patients with insomnia and migraine are asked to abstain from the Fish Pose. If you have had a back injury, it is strongly recommended that you avoid this asana.
How To Do The Matsyasana : Step-by-Step Instructions
- Lie flat on your back, making sure your legs are together, and your hands are placed comfortably beside your body.
- Place your palms under your hips such that the palms are facing the ground. Now, bring the elbows closer to each other, placing them close to your waist.
- Cross your legs such that your feet cross each other at your middle, and your thighs and knees are placed flat on the floor.
- Breathe in and lift your chest up such that your head is also lifted, and your crown touches the floor.
- Make sure the weight of your body is on your elbows and not on your head. As your chest is lifted, lightly pressurize your shoulder blades.
- Hold the position only until you are comfortable. Breathe normally.
- Exhale and release the position, lifting your head first, and then dropping your chest to the ground. Untangle your legs and relax.
Keep the following information in mind when performing this pose:
- Keep your neck extended and comfortable throughout the pose. Be careful not to bring your head back so far that you strain your neck.
- Keep your legs strongly engaged and active. Press your thighs down firmly on the floor. This will help you lift your chest higher in the pose.
- Do not press firmly through your head. Instead, lift yourself into the pose by using the strength of your back muscles and by pressing down through your thighs.
- Remember, it doesn’t matter how deep your backbend is! Focus instead on evenly distributing the curve of your spine and breathing smoothly throughout the pose.
As a beginner, it is possible that you might feel a strain in your neck when you start practicing this asana. To avoid this, you could either slightly lower your chest, or put a folded blanket under your head until you feel comfortable in this asana.
Modifications & Variations
- If you feel any strain in your neck, lower your chest slightly. You can also place a folded, firm blanket beneath your head to support the back of your neck.
- For a deeper chest and shoulder opening, begin by lying flat. Lift your pelvis and hips, and then bring your hands beneath your buttocks, palms down. Tuck your forearms and elbows alongside your torso, then rest your buttocks on the backs of your hands. Finally, lift your chest and come to the crown of your head.
- More experienced students can practice Fish Pose with the legs in Lotus Pose (Padmasana). Begin by lying flat, then bring the legs into Lotus and complete the pose.
- For a restorative variation of the pose, place a yoga block underneath the middle of your back. Drape your torso over it and let your arms, throat, and legs relax.
- To increase the challenge in this pose, slide your hands out from underneath your buttocks and bring them into Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) with arms outstretched and fingertips pointing toward the ceiling.
Benefits Of The Matsyasana
- Stretches your deep hip flexors and intercostals (muscles between the ribs)
- Relieves tension in your neck, throat, and shoulders
- Stretches and tones the front of your neck and your abdominals
- Stretches and stimulates the organs of your belly and throat
- Strengthens your upper back and the back of your neck
- Relieves stress and irritation
- Improves posture
- Therapeutic for rounded-shoulders, asthma, spasms in the bronchial tubes, and other respiratory issues
Regularly practicing Fish Pose can stretch out your whole body and improve your posture. Opening your heart and throat centers can be physically and emotionally satisfying! Remember to listen to your body and never push the pose too far. If your breath becomes strained, scale back the intensity of the pose. Let your breath and your thoughts remain soft and flowing, just like a fish gently drifting through the water.