Matsyasana is the Sanskrit name for Fish Pose. Matsya was an incarnation of the Hindu deity Vishnu. Vishnu was charged with preserving the universe, turned himself into a fish called Matsya for rebalancing the earth and the oceans. Likewise, practicing Matsyasana is a way of re-establishing the focus and resilience when you feel the gravity. Therefore, in the Vedas, Matsyasana is labeled as the “Destroyer of all Diseases.”
The performance of Fish Pose strengthens various body parts. The neck curve movement associated with the pose benefits the thyroid glands along with granting other benefits of fish pose.
How to Practice The Pose:
1. Lie on the floor on your back. Keep your legs wide apart.
2. Inhale to lift your pelvis slightly off the floor, and slide your hands underneath, palms down.
3. Gently, rest your hips on the back of your hands.
4. Ensure the forearms and elbows are tucked to the sides of the torso.
5. Breathe in, press the forearms and elbows against a yoga mat. Compress your scapulas into your back.
6. With inhalation, raise the upper torso and head up from the ground. Then, release the head back onto the floor.
7. Arch your back and lift your chest as high as you can.
8. Breathe smoothly in the pose and stay for 15- 30 seconds.
Leg Variations in Matsyasana
● Straight legs with active thighs and pressing out through the heels.
● Legs in a bent position with feet placed on the floor.
● Traditionally, Fish Pose is practiced with legs in Padmasana (cross-legged posture).
● In the final Fish Pose position, stretch the arms out, bring the hands in front of the chest, and join the palms in Anjali Mudra. This variation eliminates elbow support and strengthens the spine.
● Once you master the conventional Fish Pose, practice the elevated Matsyasana. In this variation, you lift the hips high from the ground while keeping the legs stretched out. With the practice of this modification, you can gain additional health benefits of matsyasana.
● Another challenging matsyasana variation is the leg raised position. In leg raised fish pose, you raise your legs up with toes above the eye level (Boat Pose) while the upper body takes the shape of Matsyasana.
Practicing Matsyasana with Props:
● Backbending can be difficult for most of you. Support your back on a thickly folded blanket. Comfortably rest the head on a block and soften your throat.
Who Should Avoid Practicing Matsyasana:
● Individuals with neck and back injury
● People with blood pressure problems
● Patients diagnosed with a Migraine or Insomnia
Health Benefits of Matsyasana:
1. Better Spinal Health: Fish Pose is a form of backbend that gives strength to your spine and back muscles. As you hold your upper body weight using your back muscles, the spine gets strengthened and stabilized. Also, in the process, the abdominal muscles get strengthened.
2. Beneficial for Thyroid: The deep neck curve in the pose benefits the thyroid. In the frontal part of the neck lies the thyroid gland, which produces thyroid hormones that control how the body uses energy. The neck movement in the fish pose stimulates the thyroid gland allowing it to produce a number of thyroid hormones. The arch of the back and supporting of the head on the floor results in neck benefits of fish pose.
3. Toned Glutes: Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus make up the glutes. Each of three players that make the glutes has a role to play in keeping your lower body healthy and in shape. The elevated hip version of Matsyasana provides extra stretch to the gluteal muscles thus making it toned.
4. Lightens Mood: As you arch the back, and lift your heart up, the muscles of the ribs get stretched. This movement facilitates more oxygen intake, the release of pent-up emotions from the heart, and more thus leading to a lighter mood. Also, as you lift the heart, you become a recipient of health benefits of matsyasana.
5. Beat the Stress: Sitting all day long at the desk with poor posture causes stress in the back & neck muscles. Matsyasana is the pose that aligns the spine, relaxes the back, opens the lungs, and allows the shoulder blades to come together. Each movement helps energize the body-mind.
6.Healing from Within: Fish Pose is known as the ‘Destroyer of Diseases’ because it aids in good digestion, eases menstrual discomfort, detoxifies the body helping you feel healthy and cheerful all day long.
7. Weight Loss: The leg raised variation of Matsyasana is effective in weight loss. During the raising of your legs up, the abdominal and obscure body muscles get engaged in assisting in the shedding of unwanted fat from the stomach, waist, thighs and hips.
Embody the eternity, creativity, transformation, and happiness of a fish in Matsyasana.