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. 
  • Inhale and press into your elbows and shoulders, lifting the chest. 
  • Depending on the intensity of your backbend, bring either the back or the top of the head to the floor. However there should be very little weight on it. 
  • If this feels stable extend your legs out one at a time. Extend through the heels, with a slight inner rotation of the upper legs. 
  • Stay for 5 breaths, breathing towards your chest and ribcage 
  • To come out of the pose, press your elbows down to lift your head and gently place your spine down on the mat. 

Beginners tips

  • To avoid straining your neck, reduce the intensity of the backbend 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.
  • You can similar benefits of Fish pose by practising it sitting down with your back upright. Bring your  hand to the floor behind you, bring your shoulderblades towards each other and arch your back so that you are opening up across the chest 

Benefits

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

Watch out for

  • Avoid if you have blood pressure issues, neck injuries and/or glaucoma. 
  • If you have lower back issues, keep your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. 

Variations

  • Try a more restorative version: Place a block lengthwise between your shoulder blades and a block flat under the back of your head. 
  • This pose can also be practised with your legs in Padmasana (the leg position of the Lotus Pose).