Yoga Poses

How To Practice Matsyasana (fish pose) & What Are Its Benefits

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Matsyasana Steps, Benefits & Precautions

Matsyasana (मत्स्यासन – Matsyasana in Hindi), the fish pose, is one of the backward bend Yoga poses, that makes the practitioner focused and resilient. Further, Matsyasana helps the practitioner preserve brahmacharya. In this asana, the legs are grounded to the point that they feel deeply burrowed in the earth. This lifts chest and deepens the breathing. The way of folding the legs in this pose resembles the tail of a fish, while the rest of the body gives the look of the body and the head of the fish. This is the reason that this pose is also called Fish Pose. The Sanskrit name Matsyasana is derived from two words – ‘Matsya’ which means Fish and ‘Asana’ which means Posture. The practice of this asana makes the waist, the back and the neck strong.

Matsyasana Steps 

  • Spread a yoga mat on the ground and sit on it with the legs stretched.
  • Bend the right leg and place the heel on the left hip joint.
  • Bend the left leg and place the heel on the right hip joint.
  • This is Padmasan.
  • Start bending backward, supporting the body with the arms and elbows.
  • the padmasan should not be raised from the ground.
  • Take the head back, raise the chest slightly, and keep on lowering the crown of the head, by sliding the elbows downwards towards the buttocks, until the crown touches the floor.
  • Adjust the position of the head so that the maximum arch of the back can be attained.
  • Catch hold of the big toes allowing the elbows to rest on the floor.
  • This is Matsyasan.
  • It is mostly performed immediately after Sarvangasana or Halasana.
  • Close the eyes and breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Remain in the asana for 2 to 3 minutes. For returning to the final position, reverse the order of the movement.
  • Lie in Savasana and allow the breath and blood circulation to return to normal.

Matsyasana Precautions

People who suffer from heart disease, peptic ulcers, hernia, poor back conditions, high blood pressure or any other serious illness, should not practice this asana or should consult a Yoga expert before doing it.

Matsyasana Benefits

  • The asana relieves the stiffness in the neck caused by Sarvangasana.
  • Matsyasan naturally massages the congested parts of the neck and shoulders.
  • In Sarvangasana, the neck is bent well forwards whereas in the Matsyasan the neck is bent backward.
  • In Matsyasan the thyroid and parathyroid (endocrine glands) receive plenty of blood.
  • The practice of this asana makes the waist, the back and the neck strong.
  • In Matsyasana, the practitioner can breathe freely and deeply, as the larynx or wind box and the trachea or windpipe are thrown open wide. Practitioner gets deep breathing benefits.
  • The apices of the lungs which are located just behind and above the clavicular bone, receive a proper amount of fresh air and sufficient supply of pure oxygen.
  • The cervical nerves are nourished with a good quantity of blood and so toned up properly.
  • The pituitary gland and pineal gland that are located in the brain are also stimulated and toned up. These glands play a vital role in the physiological functioning of the various systems of the body.
  • In this yoga pose, the abdominal muscles are exercised. So the asana removes constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders by massaging the abdominal viscera or organs. Youthfulness and vitality are increased.
  • For the added advantage, the practitioner can combine the final position of asana with light Ujjayi.

According to Hindu mythology, Matsya was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is said that the earth had become corrupt, and a flood was about to wash away the earth. Vishnu donned the avatar of a fish, called Matsya, and transported all the sages to safety, ensuring that all their wisdom is preserved. Matsyasana, the fish pose, aims at being focused and resilient when one feel out of balance and shaken, just as the Lord Vishnu, in the avatar of Matsya, struck that balance between the earth and the sea.

Practice Note For Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

Traditionally, this backward bending Yoga asana, Matsyasana is performed in Padmasana. But many practitioners are not able to sit in Padmasana. The option available to them is to practice it with feet on the floor or with the legs straight with heels pressed against the floor.

Fish Pose Yoga Sequence

Matsyasana should be done after Sarvangasana or Halasana to relieve the stiffness from the neck. Follow this asana with the forward bending Yoga Poses like Shashankasana, Paschimottanasana or Yoga Mudrasana.

In Sanskrit, Matsya means a fish. By the practice of Matsyasna, a person can float on water, without swimming for a long time like a fish.

About the author

Mahendra Kumar Vyas

Mahendra Vyas, with parental home at Jodhpur and born to Late Shri Goverdhan Lal Vyas and Shrimati Sharda Vyas, did Civil Engineering from M.B.M.Engineering College, Jodhpur. Shifted to Mumbai after completing engineering and worked with Sanjay Narang's Mars Group and Aditya Birla Group. With an inclination to spirituality and service, joined the Yoga stream and became a part of Yoga Niketan, Goregaon (west) in 2002 and since then practicing and imparting Yoga knowledge at Yoga Niketan and different corporates.

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