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Matsyasana - fish pose is dedicated to the incarnation of Lord Visnu

Fish Pose – Matsyasana

Matsyasana – fish pose is one of the greatest healing postures for now-a-day problems. Strangely enough we are eating less and less food. Yes, I know: we (in the West) have tons of ‘food’ around us and we are all eating too much. But the funny thing is: Americans are one of the most obese people (more than one third of the population is obese) in the world and at the same time: they are underfed. Why? Because what they eat is no real food. It’s artificial flavoring, artificial coloring and often artificial food.

I know: Americans are an easy example, but in my own country, the Netherlands, obesity is a growing problem as well. Food is the biggest cause. Non-movement the second. Children don’t move anymore. Instead of playing outside they stay indoors: playing football on their computer. Maybe that’s why we are getting worse. Kids have no body control anymore.

Thyroid problems

All this artificial food and other poison upsets our thyroid gland. Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of your neck. It releases hormones that control your metabolism and the way your body uses energy. The hormones your thyroid releases regulate vital functions like: breathing, heart rate, muscle strength, menstrual cycle, body temperature and cholesterol level.

In yoga there is a combination that stimulates the thyroid gland and that combination is Sarvangasana – shoulder stand followed by Matsyasana – fish pose. Shoulder stand closes the thyroid gland, fish pose opens it up wide, so fresh blood flows through it. You find this combination for example in the finishing series of  Ashtanga Yoga.

Getting into Matsyasana – fish pose from Padmasana

  • Matsyasana is traditionally practiced with the legs in lotus (see top picture). So start in Padmasana with both legs in lotus. If you can’t do lotus (yet) I’ll give you another option down here
  • With the help of your hands lower yourself down on your back; keeping your legs in lotus
  • Place your arms by your sides
  • Lift yourself up on your elbows, arch your spine backwards and place the grown of your head on the floor
  • Take hold of your toes with your hands. Elbows stay – if you make it – on the floor
  • Stay in the pose 30 seconds up until 1 minute
  • Bring more weight in your elbows, release your head and lay down with a flat spine for a few seconds. Slowly come up

Getting into Matsyasana – fish pose with straight legs

  • Sit in Dandasana on the floor with your legs straight in front of you
  • Place your hands behind you with your fingers against your buttocks
  • Lean back, bringing your lower arms to the floor and keeping your elbows ‘underneath’ you
  • Open your chest and bow your head backwards, letting the crown of your head rest on the floor
  • All weight should be in your arms, non on your head
  • Stay in the pose 30 seconds up until 1 minute
  • Bring your chin towards your chest and slowly come back in Dandasana
Matsyasana with straight legs

Matsyasana with straight legs

Benefits of Matsyasana – fish pose

  • Stretches the whole spine
  • Opens the chest; enhancing breathing
  • Stimulates the thyroid gland
  • Makes the pelvis more flexible
  • Alleviates pain of hemorrhoids

Contraindications Matsyasana – fish pose

  • High blood pressure
  • Neck or low back injuries

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Light on Yoga - BKS Iyengar 
Key muscles of Yoga – Ray Long
Endocrine Web 
Ashtanga – David Swenson 
Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha – Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Want more? Check out my library of yoga poses or do them with me on YouTube.

Model on top photo: Sara Bigatti / La Scimmia Yoga

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