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Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

(Mot-see-AHS-anna)

It is said that if you perform the fish pose in water, you will be able to float like a fish.

By YJ Editors – Aug, 2007

 

Step 1: Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Inhale, lift your pelvis slightly off the floor, and slide your hands, palms down, below your buttocks. Then rest your buttocks on the backs of your hands (and don’t lift them off your hands as you perform this pose). Be sure to tuck your forearms and elbows up close to the sides of your torso.

Step 2: Inhale and press your forearms and elbows firmly against the floor. Next, press your scapulas into your back and, with an inhale, lift your upper torso and head away from the floor. Then release your head back onto the floor. Depending on how high you arch your back and lift your chest, either the back of your head or its crown will rest on the floor. There should be a minimal amount of weight on your head to avoid crunching your neck. (For more about this, see the Beginners Tip below.)

Step 3: You can keep your knees bent or straighten your legs out onto the floor. If you do the latter, keep your thighs active, and press out through the heels.

Step 4: Stay for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing smoothly. With an exhalation lower your torso and head to the floor. Draw your thighs up into your belly and squeeze.

Contraindications and Cautions

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Migraine
  • Insomnia
  • Serious lower-back or neck injury

Beginner’s Tip

Beginners sometimes strain their neck in this pose. If you feel any discomfort in your neck or throat, either lower your chest slightly toward the floor, or put a thickly folded blanket under the back of your head.

 

Benefits

  • A traditional text that Matsyasana is the “destroyer of all diseases.”
  • Stretches the deep hip flexors (psoas) and the muscles (intercostals) between the ribs
  • Stretches and stimulates the muscles of the belly and front of the neck
  • Stretches and stimulates the organs of the belly and throat
  • Strengthens the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck
  • Improves posture

Theraputic Applications

  • Constipation
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Mild backache
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Menstrual pain

Modifications and Props

The backbending position in Matsyasana can be difficult for beginning students. Perform the pose with your back supported on a thickly rolled blanket. Be sure your head rests comfortably on the floor and your throat is soft.

 

Deepen the Pose

To increase the strength and lightness of this pose, push from the backs of your knees along the calves and out through the heels. The tops of your feet will press more firmly against the floor; as they do, lift the top sternum up and forward.

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