Yoga: 5 variations of Matsyasana or Fish Pose for flexibility and energy

Matsyasana, also known as the Fish Pose, offers various physical, therapeutic, and psychological benefits. You can also try variations of Matsyasana to break the monotony.
View All Images Woman doing the fish pose
Fish pose has many variations. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 8 Feb 2024, 06:30 pm IST
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In yoga, Matsyasana or the Fish Pose is all about stretching the front portion of your body, including abs, chest and neck. It enhances flexibility, alleviates abdominal problems like constipation and helps you to relax. This yoga asana has many health benefits. But you don’t have to do the same pose every day. You can combine it with other yoga asanas like Easy Pose (Sukhasana) or Lotus Pose (Padmasana). Let us tell you more about the variations of Matsyasana and how to do them.

What is Matsyasana or Fish Pose?

Matsyasana is an asana that resembles the tail of a fish. It invites you to experience the grace of floating in water, says yoga expert Dr Hansaji Yogendra. Like the undulating waves, Matsyasana can grant you various physical, therapeutic and psychological benefits.

Woman doing Matsyasana
Fish pose enhances flexibility. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What are the health benefits of Matsyasana?

Like every yoga asana, it can calm your mind. But it has more benefits to offer –

1. Physical benefits

  • Stretching of abdominal and chest muscles provides an internal massage to organs, says the expert.
  • Strengthens and tones the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles.
  • Enhances flexibility by stretching hip flexors.

2. Therapeutic benefits

  • Neck muscle stretching aids in regulating thyroid function and thymus gland, improving metabolic and immune systems.
  • Alleviates abdominal ailments like constipation, inflamed and bleeding piles.
  • Relieves disorders of pelvic organs, especially reproductive organs, and reduces the chances of vaginal prolapse and stress incontinence.

3. Psychological benefits

  • Promotes a sense of well-being.
  • Induces calmness and relaxation.
  • Builds strength, awareness, and harmony.

How to perform Matsyasana?

To do the Fish Pose, begin by lying supine on a mat with your hands beside your body. Your legs should be kept together with heels touching and toes pointing upward. Dr Yogendra says you must relax your mind and breathe normally when you do this pose.

  • Gently fold your legs using your hands.
  • Draw your hands under your head, bending at your elbow.
  • Clasp the opposite elbows, letting your hands rest on the mat above your head.
  • Maintain the position and breathe rhythmically for a minute or two.
  • To release, unclasp your hands, unfold your legs, and return to the starting position.

What are the variations of Matsyasana?

There is not just one way to do the Fish Pose. Here are some more options you can try –

1. Toe-holding Matsyasana

  • Lie on your back.
  • Fold your legs in Padmasana.
  • Grab your big toes with your fingers.
  • Hold it for a few seconds as you breathe deeply.

2. Crossed-arms Matsyasana

  • Lie on your back and keep your legs extended.
  • Fold your legs in Sukhasana or Padmasana.
  • Cross your arms under your head and place hands on opposite shoulders.
  • Hold it for a few seconds while breathing deeply.

3. Matsyasana in Sukhasana

  • Sit cross-legged in Sukhasana (easy pose).
  • Place your hands underneath your hips, with your palms down.
  • Arch back, lift chest, and tilt your head back.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds and breathe deeply.

4. Matsyasana in Padmasana

  • Sit in Padmasana (lotus pose).
  • Keep your hands underneath your hips, and your palms down.
  • Arch back, lift your chest, and tilt your head back.
  • Breathe deeply as you hold this position.

5. Matsyasana with extended legs

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended.
  • Place your hands underneath hips, palms facing down.
  • Lift your chest, arch back, and tilt your head back.
  • Hold the pose for a few seconds while you take deep breaths.

Who should avoid Matsyasana?

While doing Matsyasana can make many of your health problems go away, some people should avoid it.

Woman having a heart attack
People with heart issues should not do the Fish Pose. Image courtesy: Freepik
  • Matsyasana involves extreme stretching, which may exacerbate joint pain for those with severe arthritis.
  • Those who have heart conditions should avoid the pose, as the intense backbend can strain the cardiovascular system.
  • The pressure on the abdomen during Matsyasana may aggravate conditions like peptic ulcers and hernias, says the expert.
  • People with spinal injuries or chronic back problems should refrain from Matsyasana due to its potential impact on the spine.

Matsyasana is a powerful yoga pose that needs to be practiced mindfully with steady and deep breathing, says the expert. Whether you practice the classic or venture into these Matsyasana variations, the essence remains the same.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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