Poses by Type

Fish Pose

Boost the body's energy and fight fatigue with Fish Pose, or Matsyasana in Sanskrit, while building confidence with a loving stretch in the shoulders. It is said that if you perform Matsyasana in water, you will be able to float like a fish.

How to say Matsya in Sanskrit

(mot-see-AHS-anna)
matsya = fish

Fish Pose Step-by-Step Instructions

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Photo: Christopher Dougherty; Mat: Jade Yoga; Props: Hugger Mugger
  1. Begin on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted beneath your knees. 
  2. Place your feet hip-distance apart and parallel, with your knees also hip-distance apart. 
  3. Spin your inner thighs down toward the floor to broaden across your lower back. 
  4. Pressing down with your feet, lift your hips without letting your knees splay apart. 
  5. Place your hands on the floor palms down with your thumbs touching, then lower your buttocks onto your hands. 
  6. One foot at a time, slide your feet forward so that your legs are straight. 
  7. Have your big toes touching and a very small amount of space between your heels. 
  8. Press forward with your big toe mounds to engage your quadriceps/ 
  9. Continue to spin your inner thighs down so that your legs remain neutral. 
  10. Tuck your outer shoulders under, pinning your elbows into your midline. 
  11. Pressing down from your palms to your elbows, inflate your upper body by lifting your shoulder blades and thoracic spine into your chest. 
  12. Amplify these actions to lift your sternum toward the ceiling, then drop your head back and lower onto the crown of your head. 
  13. Engage your upper back muscles to open and support your chest from behind. 
  14. Prioritize the lift of your chest so that the curve of your neck is a continuation of the curve of your upper back. 
  15. Maintain active, neutral legs by pressing into your big toe mounds and descending your femurs. 
  16. Continue to press down firmly with your palms and your elbows so that the weight in your head is light. 
  17. Emphasize the movement of your thoracic spine rather than relying on the easy mobility of your neck. 
  18. Hold for 5–10 breaths, then lead with the chest to raise the head and release back to the floor.

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Fish Pose Cues

Contraindications and Cautions for Fish Pose

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Migraine
  • Insomnia
  • Serious lower-back or neck injury

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Benefits of Fish Pose

mobilizes and strengthens the upper back and neck; strengthens the quadriceps; opens the shoulders in extension; stretches the chest

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3 Ways to Modification for Fish Pose

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Photo: Christopher Dougherty; Mat: Jade Yoga; Props: Hugger Mugger

Place a block or a rolled blanket horizontally beneath the shoulder blades to support the lift of the chest; use two blocks, one beneath the head and one beneath the shoulder blades if the cervical extension feels too strong; place a looped strap at mid-thigh to prevent the legs from externally rotation; practice with the big toe mounds pressing into a wall to animate the legs

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Preparatory Poses

While Sarvangasana isn’t exactly a preparatory pose, Matsyasana is often sequenced as a counter-pose after Shoulderstand. Other preparations for this pose might include:

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Follow-up Poses

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