The Sanskrit word ‘Matsya’ means ‘fish’. Thus, it is known as The Fish Pose. This pose if carried out in the water, allows the body to float easily like that of a fish.
According to Hindu mythology, Matsaya was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu who appeared to save the sages and maintain a balance between the earth and the sea. It has been labeled as the “Destroyer of all Diseases”. It restores spinal strength and overall body balance.
This asana should be practiced right after performing the Shoulder Stand. It relieves congestion and cramps which can be caused by the Shoulder stand.
How to do the Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Lie flat on your back and bring your legs and feet together. Keep the knees straight and place both the arms under your body. Your hands should be as far under your thighs as possible. make sure your palms are facing down. Keep your elbows as much as possible under your back. The position aims to bring your shoulders further back.
Bend the elbows and push them on the floor below. Keep your weight on your elbow and use them to lift your chest off the floor so that you are sitting up halfway. Drop your head slowly backwards so that the top of the head is touching the floor, however the weight is distributed on the elbow.
Make sure, your mouth is closed while doing this exercise – to enable the neck and chest to get a nice stretch. If you are a beginner stay in this position and hold it for at least 15 seconds, half the time recommended for the shoulderstand.
Keep your face, legs and feet without any tension – completely relaxed. To balance yourself try and distribute your body weight on your buttocks and elbows. The idea is to arch the chest as high as you can. Since the chest is open wide make use of the pose by inhaling deeply. Take natural breaths. Over a period of time comfortable to you hold you breath for 1 1/2 minutes approximately (if you can).
How to come out of this position?
- To come out of the Fish Pose lift your head gradually while you lower your back to the floor.
- Once you are lying down relax in a Corpse Pose.
- Roll your head either side slowly so that you make the muscles loose and then bring it back to the center.
Neck Stretch after the Pose
There could be tension in your neck area after doing the Fish Pose, therefore to release it follow these steps:
Hold your head by interlocking your fingers behind your head while you are lying on the floor face up. Bring your elbows pointed towards the sky or ceiling and fore-arms next to your ears.
Inhale and lift your head with the help of the fingers behind your head and push your chin into top of your chest.
While you exhale lower your head back onto the floor or mat. repeat these steps twice. Relax into a corpse pose for 1-2 minutes.
Benefits of Fish Pose
- Aids in relieving and toning the nerves in your back and neck area.
- Eases away any stiffness in your shoulders and back. Moreover, it increases the blood flow in this area.
- Gives extra strength to muscles in shoulders and arms.
- Increases the capacity of lungs by expanding the rib cage so that you can breathe deeply. Additionally, it relieves asthma and helps decongestion of lungs.
- Both the Fish Pose and Shoulder Stand help in better function of the thyroid and parathyroid glands.
- It relieves the cramped cervical area or stiff neck caused by Shoulder Stand or Sarvangasana.
- It sends good amount of blood to the upper dorsal and cervicular nerves and they get toned and nourished.
- Due to the head tilting backwards the pineal, pituatary and endocrine glands get toned and rejuvinated.
- Since the abdominal muscles get pulled while doing the Fish Pose it massages the organs in it and removes constipation.
Due to the widening of the ribs your solar plexus opens up and gets recharged. As a result, it reduces pressure on the abdomen. Mainly, it helps in reducing depression.
- The body is not straight.
- Buttocks lifting off hands.
- Applying too much weight on the head.
- Overarching the lower back.
- Disconnecting your head from the floor
- Knees bent.
- Never do Pranayama in the Fish Pose. The breathing has to be smooth and silent.
Who should avoid practicing this Pose?
- If you suffer from high or low blood pressure, you should refrain from doing the Matsayasana
- If you have a serious back or neck injury, it is strongly recommended to avoid this pose or asana.
- Patients with insomnia and migraine should abstain from practicing the Fish Pose as well.