Home 9 Yoga Poses 9 The Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

The Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

The Story Behind the Name:

Matsyasana – The  Fish Pose (maht-see-AHS-uh-nuh), is a back-bending asana in Ashtanga Primary Series  that opens the chest, throat, and abdomen.

Matsyasana – The  Fish Pose  is usually performed as the counter-pose to Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana) and Sirsasana (The Headstand) because it neutralizes pressure on the neck and spine.

Basically the rule is “what you do on one side you do on another.”

“Matsyasana” consists of two Sanskrit words:

  • “Matsya” — meaning “fish”
  • “Asana” — meaning “pose” or “posture”

The traditional variation of the pose is performed with the legs in Lotus (Padmasana), which is appropriate for more experienced students.

Matsyasana – The  Fish Pose is also known as a “heart-opening” yoga position that refers to the fourth and fifth chakras (energetic centers), which are located at the heart as well as at the throat.

Matsyasana – The  Fish Pose takes your head away from the body and opens up the chest and the lungs and in the same way as backbend asanas is opening the front side of the body and in that way help these chakras to expand, and as a final result can increase self-confidence, well-being, and emotional growth.

Difficulty Level:

  • Advanced

Drishti Point:

  • Nose

Technical details and how to start:

  • Lie flat on the floor with straight arms and legs, palms down.
  • Place your legs into lotus and catch the big toes with your thumb and two fingers or catch the feet.
  • Inhale and press into your elbows and shoulders, lifting the chest. 
  • Bring the crown (top of the head) to the floor with very little weight on it opening the throat. 
  • Stay here for 5 breaths. 
  • To come out of the pose, press your elbows down to lift your head and gently place your spine down on the mat. Then release your upper body to the mat and release the legs from the lotus.

Health Benefits:

  • Strengthens the upper back and neck muscles, encourages better breathing, and can help relieve spinal tension and improve improves spinal flexibility and posture.
  • Helps to relieve constipation and menstrual pain.
  • Regularly practicing Fish Pose will energize the body, and reduce fatigue and anxiety.

Beginner’s tips

  • To avoid straining your neck, place a folded blanket under the back of your head. This makes sure your throat remains soft.
  • Keep your neck extended and comfortable throughout the pose. Be careful not to bring your head back so far that you strain your neck.
  • Do not press firmly through your head.
  • Lift yourself into the pose by using the strength of your back muscles and by pressing down through your thighs.

Safety Precautions

  • Avoid this pose if you have high or low blood pressure, migraine, insomnia or serious lower-back or neck injury
  • If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.

Please Note:

People who decide to start practising Yoga and who are suffering from any cardiac problem, asthma, back pain, high blood pressure, neck, shoulder or spine injury or any other health related issue, should consult a doctor before starting any yogic activities and eliminate the positions that are not suitable for their particular case. Also, some particular asanas such as inversion asanas are not recommended for female practitioners who are menstruating.

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