The Fish - Matsyasana
Matsyasana is the fourth of the 12 basic postures of hatha yoga, and the counterstretch to the shoulder stand pose. The main benefit of the fish posture is expansion of the chest, which is accomplished by taking deep inhalations while in the asana. To be done correctly, the weight of the body should be on the hips and elbows, the head gently resting on the floor, with face and neck relaxed.
- Expands the lung capacity
- Opens the chest, correcting round-shoulders
- Strengthens the back muscles
- Gives a backward stretch to the thoracic and cervical sections of the spine
- Gently stretches the neck muscles and shoulders
- Encourages deep breathing
- Helps relieve asthma
- Brings an increased supply of blood to the cervical and thoracic regions of the back
Energetic (Pranic) Benefits
- Stimulates the anahata chakra (heart psychic center)
- Brings more prana to the neck and shoulders
- Helps to regulate emotions and stress
The fish posture begins after a short relaxation, or savasana.
- Lie on your back with your legs together.
- Bring your arms underneath your body with the elbows as close together as possible. The palms should be facing down and as far underneath the thighs as possible.
- Inhale and push with your arms lifting your head, neck, chest and back off the floor. The hips should remain on the floor.
- Arch your back and try to bring the forehead as close to the floor as possible by curving the spine.
- In the ideal position, the head should be lightly resting on the floor. The weight of the body should be on the hips and elbows. The legs should be as relaxed as possible, but kept together, in order to use the back muscles more than the legs to hold the posture. The back muscles should be working very hard, and the neck and face should be relaxed, shoulders pulled away from the ears.
- Once in the proper position, take deep abdominal breaths to help expand the lung capacity.
- Hold the asana for 15 seconds at first and work up to 5 minutes.
- The fish should be held 1/2 the time of the shoulder stand pose for a normal routine.
To come out of the fish, inhale deeply and lift your head a little, straightening it out behind you. Lie down and bring your arms out from underneath your back. Roll your head back and forth a few times. Relax in savasana.
People with rounded shoulders may have trouble getting into the fish pose in the beginning, but over time should be able to do this posture.
The fish is part of the basic yoga class.