Matsyasana or Fish Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

Fish Pose
English Name(s)
Fish Pose
मत्स्यासन / Matsyāsana
Matsya = Fish
Asana = Pose; posture

Matsyasana at a Glance

Matsyasana: It’s an old yogic asana. The final pose of this asana resembles a fish and is hence called a fish pose. Fish Pose is a reclining back-bending asana in hatha yoga. Fish pose is the relaxation pose that calms your body and mind and is good for the upper back and neck.


  • This helps to overcome your stress and anxiety.
  • It helps to calm your body and mind.
  • It helps to remove the stiffness in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar regions.
  • It also helps to improve your rounded shoulders.

Who can do it?

Beginners can do the Fish pose, and people with mild back pain. People who want to open up their throat and chest and increase flexibility. Teenagers and middle-aged people can also do this asana. People who are obese also can do the fish pose.

Who should not do it?

People with severe neck and back problems should avoid doing it. People having High BP also should avoid doing it. Pregnant women should not perform this asana. People having neck injuries should avoid or do some simpler variation that doesn’t pressure their neck.

How to Do Matsyasana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

Yoga asana should be done in the given systematic procedure to avail the benefits and reduce the risk of harming yourself.

  1. Do a preparatory pose (Bridge Pose, Cobra Pose).
  2. Lie down on an even and soft surface.
  3. Lie down on your back with your legs straight and stretched. Keep your arms bent onto the sides of your body and your hands underneath your buttocks and facing downward and the elbows firmly touching the floor.
  4. Take deep breaths and lift your chest from between the shoulder blades, create an arch in your upper back, and imagine opening up your heart by pressing your forearms and elbows on the ground and getting that curve on your upper back.
  5. Now, you need to tilt your head down and see that the crown of your head touches the ground.
  6. Your neck should be comfortable, and don’t strain it.
  7. Your thigh should be active and pressed to the floor. The heels should be grounded and your toes should point upwards.
  8. Keep your core engaged and avoid straining your lower back.
  9. Breathe gently and deeply and hold the pose for about four to five breaths.
  10. You can feel your neck, chest, and throat stretch.
  11. To come out of the pose, exhale, gently release the neck, and lower your head and chest to the ground.

What are the Benefits of Matsyasana?

This is overall more helpful to the upper parts of your body and as a counter pose for shoulder stand.

Benefits of Fish Pose
  • It improves your lung capacity, as this helps to open up your chest. It strengthens the muscles in the front of the body. It improves the blood circulation to the lungs and it helps to increase the oxygen intake and helps better lung function.
  • It helps open up your chest and the heart, helps to improve your posture, and also is helpful for people sitting for longer duration. It acts as a counter for Hunchbacks, and avoid getting the hunch if you practice it regularly.
  • It helps improve the respiratory system’s function as this pose helps improve the lung capacity.
  • The gentle upper body bend can help relieve stress, soothe your nervous system and promote relaxation.
  • If you are suffering from any minor digestive issues, this pose can help to add relief as it gives a gentle massage to the abdominal muscles and a mild stretch to your stomach.
  • Regular practice can improve your concentration and give you more mental clarity.
  • Spiritually, this activates the throat chakra, which improves communication and self-expression.
  • It increases your self-confidence and balances your emotional growth.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Matsyasana

  • Practicing this pose regularly can help diabetic people to keep their diabetes in control. This pose activates the pancreas, which helps release insulin and control the rising blood sugar level. It helps the blood circulation level to the pancreas.
  • Unusual development of breasts in men and this could be the cause of hormonal changes. This pose can help reduce the fat the cholesterol deposit in the chest area and helps to look normal.
  • this is helpful for females having painful periods and cramps in the lower abdomen and spreads to the upper thighs and the lower back. Practicing this asana may improve flexibility and strengthen the back and pelvic muscles.
  • This pose expands the chest muscles and encourages deep breathing.
  • Practicing this pose can help massage the abdominal muscles and give relief from indigestion, gas, and bloating.

Safety and Precautions

  • People with hernia shouldn’t practice this asana without the consultation of their doctor.
  • If you have lower back issues, keep your knees bent.
  • Place a cushion or a thickly folded blanket under your neck.
  • Don’t force yourself to get the full pose all of a sudden. Keep it slow and progressive.
  • Pregnant women should consult their healthcare professional.

Common Mistakes

  • Don’t try to arch your neck too much than your capability.
  • Don’t avoid warm-up sessions.
  • Don’t push yourself too hard to get into this may strain your neck and shoulders. Keep it slow.
  • Uses props if needed, and breath coordination is important.
  • Beginners do it under the guidance of the yoga teacher.

Tips for Matsyasana

  • Warm-up is important.
  • Engage your core.
  • Keep a thickly rolled blanket to support your back.
  • Maintain a gentle and steady breath.
  • When you are in the pose relax your neck and facial muscles.

The Physical Alignment Principles for Matsyasana

Lie on your back and keep your legs and feet together and arms straight and extended on the sides of your body.

  • Place the palms under your hips, facing the ground.
  • Bend your arms and elbows touching the floor.
  • Inhale and lift your upper body and gently open your chest as much as possible.
  • When you arch, the crown of the head is on the floor.
  • Keep your core engaged to avoid straining your back.
  • Heels should be grounded and toes pointing upwards.
  • Keep breathing throughout the pose.
  • Be mindful to notice any signals your body gives you and act accordingly.

Matsyasana and Breath

Taking a deep breath is helpful. Breathe in when you lift your chest and get fresh energy. Inhale and exhale while in the pose gently and get a sense of calmness. Exhale the negativity, relax and come out of the pose.

Matsyasana and Variations

  • Use props to support this Matsyasana.
  • Deep stretch with fish poses and lotus pose together.
  • Fish pose in the seated pose.

Take Away

This pose is a heart and chest opener and helps expand the chest and lungs. It improves your posture. It helps to relieve stress and is good for the thyroid. Variations are there to help people choose according to their capability. It promotes balance and improves self-confidence.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.


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