Fish pose, or matsyasana, is a beginning to intermediate asana. It helps open the chest and lengthen the spine.
Fish pose opens the heart chakra, which is an energetic center in the middle of your chest. The heart chakra is the center of your being, integrating your physical with the mental and spiritual. It is also the location where love grows and flourishes - both romantic and other types of love. Therefore, performing fish pose and opening this chakra can help increase love and decrease feelings of anger, fear, bitterness, or hatred. As it balances the heart chakra, you may also better experience the integration between body, mind, and spirit.
Performing Fish Pose
The starting position for fish pose is on your back with your knees straight and your feet flexed. From this position, move into the pose.
- Slide your hands underneath your hips with your palms flat on the floor, bringing your elbows pressed tightly to your side.
- Take a deep breath, lifting through your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together, and arching your back. Lift your head as you do.
- Allow the weight of your head to gently pull the back of your head, tilting your neck, until the back or crown of the head rests on the floor with your chest still lifted.
- Press your thighs and legs into the floor to deepen the arch in your back.
- Breathe deeply, holding the pose for about 20 seconds.
- Take a deep breath and, as you exhale, lower your back to the floor and straighten your head.
- Finish by drawing your knees to your chest and holding across the knees with your forearms in the knee-to-chest (apanasana) pose.
You can modify the pose in different ways to make it harder or less challenging.
- For a more advanced version of fish pose, hold your legs in the lotus (padmasana) position as you complete the asana.
- If you experience neck pain, use a folded towel or bolster under your neck to reduce any stress or strain as you perform the pose.
- For an easier version of the pose, as well as if you have lower back pain or a weaker core, perform matsyasana with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
According to Art of Living, the health benefits of fish pose include:
- Opens the chest, stretching chest muscles and encouraging you to take deeper breaths
- Stretches the neck and shoulders, which are common areas where people tend to carry tension
- Stimulates the pineal and pituitary glands
Matsyasana is a comfortable stretching pose that can help you breathe more deeply and release tension in your back, neck, chest, and shoulders. Try this pose after a long day of working when you're feeling tension in these areas, or make it a regular part of your yoga practice.