It is said that practicing Fish Pose (Matsyasana) on water allows the body to float effortlessly. While I haven’t tested this theory myself, I do know that practicing Fish Pose after a day of hunching in front of a computer is the perfect antidote to held tension in the chest, shoulders, and upper back.
The combination of stretching and opening quite literally is like a huge sigh of relief for the entire body, making me one happy fish!
Benefits of Fish Pose
Fish Pose offers a deep stretch for the shoulders, chest, and the front body, including the throat, abdomen, and hip flexors. The pose also strengthens the musculature of the back and neck, encourages better breathing, and can help relieve spinal tension and improve posture.
Those with neck or lower back issues should practice this pose with caution, and modify accordingly.
Fish Pose Step-By-Step
- Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your hips and tuck your hands slightly beneath your buttocks, palms facing down. Draw your forearms and elbows in toward your body.
- On an inhale, bend your elbows and press firmly into your forearms and elbows to lift your head and upper body away from the floor and begin to find the natural curve of your spine.
- Firm your shoulderblades into your back and lift your chest higher toward the ceiling, elongating your spine.
- Gently release the crown of your head (or the back of your head, if the crown doesn’t feel available to you) back down on the floor, placing a minimal amount of weight on your head.
- Remain here with your knees bent, or, if it feels comfortable, extend both legs straight down on the mat in front of you with your muscles strongly engaged.
- Stay in the pose anywhere from 5 to 10 deep breaths. To come out of the pose, engage your core, press firmly into your forearms, and gently lift your head away from the floor. Tuck your chin into your chest and place the back of your head down.
- To ease any neck or back strain in this pose, try taking a bolster, a tightly rolled blanket, or a towel perpendicular to your spine, placed below your shoulderblades. A folded blanket or towel can also be placed beneath the head to help bring the floor closer.
- Think of the head only as a balance point for the pose, and keep the weight firmly grounded in your legs and the muscles of your back as your support system. Remember to keep your throat soft and your face relaxed.
- For an added challenge, take the traditional variation by crossing your legs into Padmasana (Lotus) and holding on to your big toes, or by coming into the pose with your legs extended then lifting your legs 45 degrees away from the floor, pressing actively through your heels.
How do you like Fish Pose? Share with us in the comments!