Fish Pose — Matsyasana
Matsyasana, the fish pose, got its name from the fact that when this pose is practiced in water it is possible to float! Great yogis like Trailanga Swami of Benares were said to float on the river Ganges for hours in Matsyasana! Yet even if practiced on land this pose can help us float into the waters of deep relaxation and energetic expansion. This pose stretches the psoas, the intercostal muscles (the muscles in between the ribs), and opens up the lungs. So bend into the waters of the fish pose, and float on the waves of deep relaxation.
Lie on your back, arms alongside the torso, knees bent, soles of the feet on the floor.
Slide your hands with palms facing down below your buttocks, and place forearms and elbows up close to the sides of the body.
Extend the legs and press them into the floor, pointing the toes.
By pressing forearms and elbows against the floor the upper torso and head lift up. Then release the head back onto the mat. Depending on one’s spinal extension either the back of the head or its crown will rest on the floor. In either position there should be a minimal amount of weight on the head.
Keep on broadening the chest, lifting the heart and retract the scapulae.
Alternatively, lie on your back, arms alongside the torso, legs together and active, toes pointing. Make fists and bend the elbows. On an inhalation, press both elbows down, lifting the chest up so high that the very top of the head can be placed on the floor.
Put the palms down at the sides and walk the fingers toward the feet as far as possible. Press the palms down and lift the elbows off the mat. The neck feels long and there is only little weight on the head.
Keep on pressing the palms into the mat to lift the chest, and deepen the back bend.
Place your elbows back on the floor in case they have been lifted, and press them down. Lift your head, with your chin toward your chest, and lower the torso and head to the floor.
To increase the challenge of the pose, bring the hands into Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal) with the arms outstretched and fingertips pointing toward the ceiling.
To train into the advanced traditional practice start with the legs stretched forward and fold one leg, placing the foot on the opposite thigh as in Ardha Padmasana, the Half Lotus Pose. Keep the other leg straight in front of the body. Assume the posture by slowly bending backward, lowering the crown of the head to the floor, using the elbows for support. In the final pose, hold the foot of the bent leg with both hands and accentuate the arch of the back as much as possible. Repeat the same pose with the other leg folded.
– Stretches the deep hip flexors (psoas), the muscles between the ribs (intercostals), the abdominal muscles and the front of the neck.
– Strengthens the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck.
– Stretches the abdominal organs and intestines.
– Regulates the function of the thyroid gland.
– Stimulates the thymus gland.
– Encourages deep respiration.
– Removes fatigue.
– Improves symptoms of anxiety.
– High or low blood pressure.
– Heart diseases.
– Serious lower-back or neck injury.
– Peptic ulcer.