Fish Pose: A Healing Spiritual Posture
Fish Pose: Matsyasana
Matsyasana is accessible from many variations of yoga, from restorative to more rigorous practices. Matsyasana, known as the “destroyer of all diseases,” is a beneficial posture. The thyroid is open and your intercostals are being exposed because the chest is arched. Tension in the neck and shoulders (where you carry stress) is relieved, and tension in your thoracic spine is relieved (this is a backbend). Also, this pose opens the upper psoas muscles in the hip region (another place where you carry stress.)
In Matsyasana your heart and throat chakras are being exposed more so than usual. An open heart chakra allows love to manifest within the practitioner—giving and receiving. Allowing the throat chakra to open helps the practitioner speak up with confidence when needed. Matsyasana helps the practitioner speak from the heart because the crown chakra is surrendering to the ground.
Have a bolster align your spine and let your spine all the way from the sacrum (lower back) to the cervical spine (neck) have the support of the bolster. Let your hips, hands and feet relax. Let your head release back and hold for 5-10 minutes. Take gentle inhales and exhales. Try a restorative class for more postures like this one.
Lie on back, keeping your feet together and hands are beside the body. Bring your hands underneath your hips bringing your elbows close together and staying within the shoulder frame. Inhale – lift the head and chest and on the Exhale – keep the chest arched release the crown of the head to the floor. Keep the weight in the elbows and forearms, not the crown of the head. Point the toes and take steady inhalations and exhalations. Try to hold for 10-25 breaths. Let the head rise slowly on the inhale, release one hand at a time and maybe a child’s pose to close off what you’ve opened up or simply lie down. If this is too much, do the restorative version.
*Do not attempt this variation unless your hips are open and/or your body is warmed up, especially the spine.* Be mindful of your hips and neck in this variation. From an upright, comfortable sitting position bring your legs in full lotus (padmasana) unless you’re following the Ashtanga Primary Series, bring your hands underneath your hips bringing your elbows close together and staying within the shoulder frame. Inhale – lift the head and chest and on the Exhale – keep the chest arched release the crown of the head to the floor. Keep the weight in the elbows and forearms, not in the crown of the head. If it’s not too much weight on the head grab the inside of your feet close to the toes. Know that your hands can stay in the intermediate version method if you’re still working on keeping weight out of the head. Hold for steady inhales and exhales and hold this pose as long as you’re comfortable in this particular posture. Try holding for 5 breaths and work your way up. Let the head rise on the inhale, releasing your hands, releasing your legs from full lotus and find a child’s pose, forward compression stretch, lie down, or if you’re practicing the Ashtanga Primary Series release into Uttana Padasana (raised legs pose).
Matsyasana is a diverse, healing, and spiritual posture. This posture can progress with the yogi based on the version they wish to practice. Practice with safety and love.