Fish Pose  -Matsyasana

Step by step

  • Lie down on your back, bend your knees with the soles of your feet on the floor, arms alongside the body, palms down.
  • Lift your hips and slide your hands underneath the upper buttocks. Keep your gluteus muscles connected to your hands throughout this pose.
  • Inhale and press into your elbows and shoulders, lifting the chest.
  • Depending on the intensity of your back bend, either the back or the top of the head is on the floor. However there should be very little weight on it.
  • If this feels stable extend one leg out along the floor at a time. Extend through the heels, with a slight inner rotation of the upper legs.
  • Breathe, hold the pose for around 5 breaths.
  • Come out of this pose when you are ready by pressing in the elbows, lifting the head back off the floor and slide the head back down.

Beginners tips

  • To avoid straining your neck, reduce the intensity of the back bend or place a thickly folded blanket under the back of your head.
  • If the backbend feels too difficult, try supporting your back on a thickly rolled blanket. This makes sure your throat remains soft.

Benefits

  • Energizing.
  • Opens the neck, chest and intercostal muscles between the ribs.
  • Counterpose for Shoulderstand.

Watch out for

  • People who suffer from blood pressure issues or neck injury should avoid this pose,
  • Lower back problems - keep your knees bent, feet flat on the floor instead of extending hte legs out.

Variations

  • A challenging variation that includes good core work is to lift your extended legs off the floor to a 45 degree angle. Extend through the heels. Then lift your arms up 45 degrees (parallel with the legs), palms of your hands touching.
  • This pose can also be practiced with your legs in Padmasana (the leg position of the Lotus Pose).
  • Practice a more restorative version by lying back over a block placed lengthways between your shoulder blades.