How To Do Yoga Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Fish Pose, also known as Matsyasana in Sanskrit, is a heart-opening yoga posture that can bring about a sense of freedom and release. It helps to relieve tension in the upper back and neck. While stimulating energy flow throughout the body.

In this article, I will guide you through the process of achieving the pose safely and effectively.

Before we dive into the specifics of how to do Fish Pose. It’s important to note that every body is unique and may require different modifications or adjustments. The key is to listen to your body and honor its limitations. While still pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

With that said, let’s explore some beginner tips for preparing for fish pose!

How To Do Fish Pose (Matsyasana) Video

Step-by-step Instructions

Here are the steps to do Matsyasana:

  1. Begin by lying on your back on your mat with your legs extended and your arms resting at your sides.
  2. Bring your hands under your hips, palms down, and rest your elbows on the ground.
  3. Inhale and lift your chest, arching your back and pressing your elbows into the ground.
  4. If you can, lift your head off the ground and drop it back, bringing the crown of your head to the ground.
  5. You can also keep your head on the ground if that feels more comfortable for your neck.
  6. Press down through your forearms and lift your chest, feeling a stretch in your chest and throat.
  7. Keep your legs active and engaged, pressing through your heels.
  8. Hold the pose for several breaths, then slowly release and come back to a neutral position.

Some additional tips to keep in mind:

Move mindfully and listen to your body as you gently stretch your muscles. Be especially aware of any discomfort. So that you can honour it while taking extra precautions against neck or back injuries.

Fish Pose Yoga / Canva

Benefits of Fish Pose Matsyasana

Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Chest and shoulder opening: It helps to stretch and open the chest, shoulders, and neck. It counteracts the effects of hunching and sitting for long periods. Which can lead to rounded shoulders and poor posture.
  2. Deep breathing and lung expansion: The pose encourages deep breathing, which helps expand the lungs and increase oxygen intake. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals with respiratory issues like asthma or allergies.
  3. Spinal flexibility and alignment: Matsyasana involves a gentle backward bend that promotes flexibility and mobility in the spine. It stretches the muscles and fascia along the entire length of the spine, promoting good posture and relieving tension.
  4. Relief from neck and shoulder tension: By opening the chest and shoulders, the asana can alleviate tension and tightness in these areas. It can be especially helpful for individuals who spend long hours sitting at a desk or working on computers.
  5. Stimulates the thyroid gland: The throat is stretched and stimulated. Which can have a positive impact on the thyroid gland’s functioning. This can help regulate metabolism and promote hormonal balance.
  6. Relaxation and stress reduction: The pose is known for its calming and rejuvenating effects on the nervous system. The pose activates the parasympathetic nervous system, triggering the relaxation response and reducing stress and anxiety.
  7. Improves digestion: The gentle compression on the abdomen can aid digestion and alleviate digestive discomfort. It stimulates the organs in the abdominal region. Including the liver, kidneys, and intestines, promoting healthy digestion and elimination.

Remember to practice under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor, especially if you’re new to yoga or have any pre-existing medical conditions. They can provide proper alignment cues and modifications to ensure you receive the maximum benefits while avoiding any potential risks or discomfort.

Beginner Tips

You’ll definitely feel like a fish out of water at first. But don’t worry, with practice and patience, it will become second nature.

To begin this pose, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms alongside your torso with palms facing down. Next, lift your buttocks off the ground. Then slide your forearms underneath you while keeping elbows close to each other.

Lift up through the chest as you lower the head to the floor behind you. You should feel a stretch in both the front of your torso and neck. Hold this position for a few breaths before slowly lowering yourself back down onto the mat.

The benefits are numerous. It helps open up the chest, strengthens upper back muscles and improves posture. After you’ve practiced this beginner version several times, try lifting up into a full backbend by straightening your arms. Then pushing into them to lift more fully through your chest towards the sky.

Remember to always finish with a counter pose such as Child’s Pose or Corpse Pose before moving onto other yoga poses.

Preparing: Warm-Up and Alignment…

Preparing for Fish Pose: Warm-up and Alignment

Before diving into the full expression of this heart-opening asana. It’s important to properly warm up your spine and ensure proper alignment. Begin with some gentle backbending movements such as Cat-Cow or Sphinx Pose to awaken the upper back muscles.

From there, move into a supported Fish Pose by placing a block or bolster beneath the shoulder blades while lying on your back. This will help open up the chest without putting too much pressure on the neck.

Once you feel warmed up and ready to move into fullpose. Then come onto your back with your legs extended and arms resting alongside your body.

Yoga Fish Pose / Canva

Draw your shoulder blades together and down towards your tailbone as you lift your chest towards the ceiling. Keep pressing firmly through both forearms and elbows to support yourself in this posture. Remember to keep your neck long. Avoid any strain or discomfort in that area.

As you begin to deepen into this yoga posture, pay close attention to proper alignment throughout the entire body. Focus on maintaining length in both sides of the waistline. While actively engaging through the legs and feet.

With these step-by-step instructions for preparation, you’ll be well on your way to experiencing all of the benefits. Including a greater sense of openness in both body and mind.

Precautions & Contraindications

It’s important to be aware of any precautions or contraindications before starting. I always advise to listen to their bodies. Not pushing themselves beyond their limits. While it’s an excellent stretch for the front of your body and opens the chest. It may not be suitable for everyone.

To help you understand better, here is a table outlining some common precautions and contraindications:

Neck or throat injuriesHigh blood pressureShoulderstand
Low back pain or injuryMigraine headachesChild’s Pose
PregnancyAsthma or other breathing difficultiesCorpse Pose

Remember that these are just general guidelines, and it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise routine. In the subsequent section, I’ll discuss common mistakes to avoid and modifications for different levels of practice.

Common Mistakes to Avoid and Modifications for Different Levels

To ensure a safe and effective practice. It’s crucial to be aware of some common mistakes to avoid and different modifications available for practitioners at various levels when exercising.

One common mistake is placing too much weight on the back of your head. Which can cause strain in your neck. To avoid this, make sure to press your forearms into the floor and lift through your chest instead.

Another modification you can try is placing a folded blanket under your upper back for extra support. This will help you lower your chest towards the ground without putting pressure on your neck.

For those just starting out with this pose, keeping both feet on the floor. This can also be helpful until you build up more strength in your core muscles.

Remember that there are always modifications available. To make any yoga pose accessible for all levels of experience.

To deepen your asana and explore variations beyond these basic modifications. Check out our next section about tips and tricks!

Tips to Deepen Your Yoga Fish Pose and Variations to Try

Explore ways to enhance your experience and take it to the next level with some tips and variations! Here are a few ideas to deepen your practice:

If you have enough spinal flexibility, try bringing your legs into Padmasana (Lotus Pose) before coming into the pose. This will add an extra stretch to your hips and thighs while also opening up your chest.

After you come out of the asana, try doing Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) as a counterpose. This inversion will help balance out the energy flow in your body. This is also giving you a chance to rest and relax.

If you have trouble keeping the crown of your head on the ground, try using a folded blanket or pillow for support. Place it underneath your head and neck for added comfort.

There are many other variations that can be done depending on your level of experience and physical ability. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different options until you find what works best for you! And don’t forget to finish off with Anjali Mudra (Prayer position) as a final closing gesture.

Yoga Fish Posture / Canva

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the asana benefit the body and mind?

As I glide into the pose, my body opens up and my mind becomes calm. This rejuvenating pose improves posture, relieves tension in the neck and shoulders. It also stimulates the thyroid gland, and promotes deep relaxation.

What is the best time of day to practice Fish Pose?

The best time to practice is in the morning. It energizes the body, stimulates digestion and relieves stress. However, it can be done anytime as per convenience and comfort level.

How long should one hold Fish Pose?

Try to hold for at least 30 seconds, gradually increasing to a minute or more as you become comfortable. Focus on deep breathing and opening your chest. While also being mindful of any discomfort or strain in your neck or back.


In conclusion, this asana is a great way to stretch the neck, chest and back muscles. While it may seem intimidating at first. With proper warm-up and alignment techniques, anyone can master this pose. Remember to approach this pose slowly and listen to your body’s limits.

Key Takeaways

  • It can relieve tension in the upper back and neck while stimulating energy flow throughout the body.
  • It can open up the chest, strengthen upper back muscles, and improve posture.
  • However, caution should be taken if one has neck or throat injuries, low back pain or injury, pregnancy, high blood pressure, migraines, or breathing difficulties.
  • Beginners can start by lying on their back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, lifting their buttocks off the ground, and sliding their forearms underneath while lowering their head to the floor behind them.

Now, some people may argue that they don’t have the flexibility required to exercise. However, with practice and patience, even the tightest muscles can loosen up.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t go all the way into the pose at first. Use modifications such as blocks or blankets until you feel comfortable enough to try more advanced variations.

Overall, Fish Pose offers numerous benefits for both physical health and mental well-being. So next time you’re on your mat, give it a try – your body’ll thank you!

How To Do Fish Pose / Canva