Being a pose of both grounding and bouncy, matsyasana is a great pose for when you are feeling super grounded or super in the clouds. Matsyasana or fish pose is an opening pose. First it opens up anahata or heart chakra, who’s positive energy will drip into vishuddha or throat chakra, to ajna or third eye chakra, finally to sahasrara or crown chakra which will ground you to the earth. Still with your chest in the air it also lifts you up in your energies.
Matsyasana is supposed to be worked in a sequence, and as a final pose. At the end of practice it promotes the opening and releasing of the yoga practice, and balancing the back after a number of forward folds. For many yogies this is after sivananda (shoulder stand) and/or halasana (plow). Matsyasana stretches the muscles between the ribs and hip flexors, opens the raspatory system to improve breathing, stretches and back and the back of your neck, relieves stress and irritation, improves posture, and helps with rounded-shoulders.
How to Practice
Lay flat on your back with your arms parallel and snug to your upper body, and your legs straight out. Inhale, press your four-arms into the earth and lifting your chest. Exhale drop your head back and rest the crown on the earth.
If it feels right, from here you can bend your legs into lotus pose; or you can inhale and bring your hands and legs up at 45 degree angles.
This is not generally a pose to be tackled if you are a beginner. To prep for matsyasana try working on locust, salabhasana, or wheel pose, urdhva dhanurasana.
A block under the head can help ease into this pose. Also a rolled towel or blanket under the back will help with the back bend.
This pose should not be practiced by people with, head injuries, chronic migraines, low blood pressure, neck injuries or issues, or upper or lower back issues.
This pose should be practiced after doing sivananda and/or halasana; but never just on it’s own. Deep back bends also should be followed by deep twists to ‘reset’ the back afterwards.
Most classes leave matsyasana as the second to last pose, only followed by a twist before shavasana.