Fish Pose: Matsyasana
- Opens your pectoralis muscles of your chest, the intercostal muscles between your ribs, and upper portion of psoas muscles in your hips.
- Improves the quality of your breath by opening the accessory muscles of breathing.
- Opens muscles in your abdomen and in the front of your neck.
- Relieves thoracic and mid back spinal tension.
- Strengthens musculature in your back and neck.
- Traditionally thought to sitmulate organs in the abdomen and throat.
- Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
- Low Back Problems - keep your knees bent, flat on the floor, or use a bolster across your spine to have a more passive version of the pose (see modifications below).
- Neck problems - use a block, bolster, or blanket to bring the floor closer to your head (see modifications below).
- Low Blood Pressure - Strongly use your arms on the floor to control your exit from the pose, taking a deep inhale as you exit, and lie quietly before moving to the next pose to avoid dizziness.
matsya = fish
- Begin by lying on the floor with both your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
- Bring your arms by your side, palms down. Lift each hip to allow your thumb and first few fingers to fit under your hip, placing your hips back to the earth.
- Bend your elbows, keeping your hands under your hips, and press into the earth with your forearms, lifting your body from the floor. Allow your pelvis to rock almost onto your sitting bones, accentuating the natural curve of the low back.
- Send your heart upwards and backwards, creating a back bend in your thoracic spine, where your rib cage is. Picture your spine getting longer and arching gently into a backwards curve.
- Imagining your neck as an extension of your spine, reach out from the crown of your head, perhaps finding the floor with A) the back of the head or B) the crown of the head. If this is not available to you, you may use props (see modifications below). Your head is not supporting the weight of the body, but merely a balance point. The strong muscles of the back are supporting you in this pose.
- You may keep your legs A) knees bent, feet flat on the floor, B) legs extended on the floor, feet flexed, muscles engaged, C) cross your legs in siddhasana/easy sitting or find lotus pose. You should not feel any discomfort in your low back or neck.
- Breathe slowly and stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- To exit, draw your low belly in to activate your core, inhale and press into your forearms to gently lift your head from the earth. Tuck your chin softly. Exhale and lightly lie back on the mat.
- Using a bolster for a more passive back bend – To minimize the work in the spinal muscles you may place a bolster or a firmly rolled blanket perpendicular to your spine. Place your prop below your shoulder blades and gently lie back, allowing your head to come into soft contact with the floor. This is an excellent preparatory pose if you have a lot of tension in the low back or rib cage.
- Using a block / bolster / blanket to bring the floor closer – To experience the strength of the back bend without straining the neck, place your prop under your head near the base of your skull before you enter the pose. Enter the pose as above, and then allow your head to rest on the prop instead of the floor. You may need to experiment with height. Do not sag into the support of the prop, but rather use to prop to work deeper into the pose, continuing to send your heart up and back
- Neck strain in the Pose – To relieve strain in the neck, shift your weight more into your hips and forearms, and increase the length in your spine to create a bigger back bend and take the weight off of your head. You may also consider less extension in the neck, and making contact with the back of your skull rather than the top.
Yoga Pose Article written by Dr. Robin Armstrong:
Dr. Robin Armstrong is a Vancouver chiropractor and yoga instructor. Robin blends her western knowledge gained from her experience as a chiropractor, with the ancient eastern knowledge passed through generations of yoga teachers. Robin’s classes emphasize safety, breath, alignment, and movement, while teaching students ways to strengthen and lengthen their bodies to handle the stresses of our modern lifestyle. If you are coming to her as a patient, expect to be prescribed yoga! Learn more about Dr. Armstrong at www.stayactive.ca