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Fishing for Yoga You Can Do

Updated on May 13, 2008

Fish Pose (Matsyasana – Matsya, fish; asana, pose)


This posture itself is in the category of backbends, where the practitioner lies in his or her back and lifts the heart by rising up on the elbows and drawing the shoulders back. The neck is lengthened, and the crown of the head is "pointed" toward the wall behind the practitioner. As the arch of the back deepens with practice, the heart and throat open further, the top of the head may brush the ground, but no weight rest upon it.

opening the chest

Opening the shoulders increases clavicular, as opposed to abdominal breathing
Opening the shoulders increases clavicular, as opposed to abdominal breathing


  • Encourages as expansion of the ribcage that improves lung capacity and can help ease respiratory problems.
  • Opens the front and contracts the back of the neck, invigorating the throat and thyroid gland.
  • Brings elasticity to the neck and spine.
  • Stretches opens and decongest solar plexus and abdomen.
  • Soothes the nervous system
  • Limbers the pelvic joints and stretches the legs and toes to correct minor misalignments.
  • Stimulates pelvic organs, especially reproductive organs, particularly the ovaries.
  • Deep breathing creates an internal massage which tones the abdominal viscera, liver and spleen.
  • Opens the heart chakra, releases grief

Finding the pose

Lie on the floor with your buttocks resting on your hands, palms down, and your elbows as close together as possible beneath you.

Inhaling, lift up on your elbows and tuck your head under to bring the crown of the head toward the floor. Imagine the breastbone is being pulled toward the ceiling. Your weight is supported by your sitz bones and elbows rather than your head or neck. Breathe deeply for 15 breaths.

Counterpose by lifting yourself onto your elbows, bringing your head up and slowly lowering yourself flat to the floor. Interlock your fingers behind your head and gently lift your chest for a few breaths, before lowering your head to the floor.

Relax with the legs extended and arms to the side.

Practicing with awareness


If you have a stiff neck or other neck problems, keep your head lifted from the floor in this posture. This avoids placing pressure on the head and neck.


Pregnant women and those with diagnosed spinal conditions should avoid this pose. Backache due to stress is fine. Practice awareness in every pose.

Increasing the sensation

An advanced variation
An advanced variation

Engaging abdominals

In a more advanced version of the asana, the legs are lifted with toes pointed and they are held off the ground. Use the the lower abdominal muscles to avoid placing excess pressure on your back.

This pose (enhancement) is not suitable for beginners.


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