Sivananda yoga

MATSYASAN – The Fish

October 13, 2011

As this asana will facilitate floating on the water, it is called the Fish Pose or Matsyasan. As counterposition to the Shoulderstand, The Fish gives a backward bending stretch to the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine. To derive maximum benefit, the Fish should follow immediately after the Shoulderstand. It relieves any congestion and cramp which may have been caused by the Shoulderstand.

Coming into the Fish

  1. Lying flat on the back, bring the feet together.
  2. Place the hands, palms flat on the floor, beneath the thighs.
  3. Pushing with the elbows, lift the chest until you are sitting halfway up.
  4. Drop the head back so that the top of the head is on the ground.

The head should be touching the ground, but the weight of the body is on the elbows. Slide the hands down towards the knees, if possible.

Holding the position

Pushing with the elbows, arch the chest as high as possible. Breathe deeply, expanding the ribcage with each inhalation. The Fish is usually held for half as long as the Shoulderstand. (For example, if the Shoulderstand was held for 3 minutes, the Fish would be held for 1 ½ minutes).

Matsyasan - the Fish

Coming out of the position

Lift the head slightly, straighten the back, and lower the head and shoulders to the ground. Relax in the Corpse Pose.

Common Mistakes

Never do pranayama in the Fish. Breathing should be deep, but smooth and silent.

Benefits of the Fish

Physical benefits

  • The Fish removes stiffness from the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions, bringing an increase of blood supply to these parts.
  • A natural massage is given to the shoulders and neck.
  • Round shoulders are corrected.
  • In the Fish, the chest is thrown wide open, so deep breathing may easily be practiced. This will:
  1. Increase lung capacity.
  2. Relieve spasm in the bronchial tubes.
  3. Relieve asthma.
  • The cervical and upper dorsal nerves are nourished and toned with an increased supply of blood.
  • While in the Fish Pose, the energy of the body is focused on the parathyroid glands. These are 4 small endocrine glands embedded in the thyroid tissue in the neck. The function of the parathyroid glands is to regulate calcium levels in the blood and absorption by the body.
  • This is critically important in relation to:
  1. Contraction of all muscles including the heart.
  2. Clotting of blood.
  3. Bone strength, plasticity and brittleness.
  4. Prevention of tooth decay.
  • The pituitary and pineal glands, located in the brain, are stimulated and toned. The pituitary is considered to be the „master gland” because it regulates secretion of all other endocrine glands. However, this gland is itself controlled by the brain and mediates the effects of the central nervous system on hormonal activity in the body.

Mental Benefits

  • Moods, emotions and stress are regulated.

Psychic Benefits

  • Increased Prana is brought to the neck and shoulder area.
  • The practice of the Fish in the Lotus prevents loss of Prana through the lower limbs.
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