Pose of the Week: Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

Matsyasana (pronounced maht-see-AHS-uh-nuh), also commonly known as Fish Pose, predictably comes from the Sanskrit word “matsya” meaning fish.  Fish Pose is a heart-opening back bend that opens the throat, chest and abdomen, while stretching the hip flexors and intercostals. Matsyasana also strengthens the upper back muscles and the back of the neck, which can improve flexibility in the spine and one’s posture. This pose also opens the lungs, allowing for improved breathing and alleviation of respiratory conditions. Fish Pose stimulates the abdomen, thereby providing menstrual pain and constipation relief. With all of these benefits, it is easy to see how Matsyasana can aid those suffering from respiratory ailments (such as asthma), mild backaches, menstrual pain and constipation. Lastly, but not least, Fish Pose energizes the body overall, lessening anxiety and fatigue.

While Matsyasana offers many benefits, it should be avoided if one has recent or chronic injury or inflammation to the low back or neck, high or low blood pressure, migraines or insomnia.

How to perform Fish Pose:

1. Begin by lying on the back with legs extended and arms resting alongside the body with palms down.

2. Press the forearms and elbows into the floor. Lift the chest to create an arch in the upper back. Lift the shoulder blades and upper torso off the floor. Tilt the head back and slowly bring the crown of the head to the floor.

3. Keep pressing through the hands and forearms. Note: There should be very little weight pressing onto the head.

4. Keep the thighs active and energized. Press outward through the heels.

5. Hold for five breaths.

6. To release from the pose, press firmly through the forearms to slightly lift the head off the floor. Exhale while lowering the torso and head to the floor. Draw knees into the chest for knees to chest pose. Remain with knees into the chest for a few breaths.  Extend the legs long and rest.

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