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Matsyasana (Fish Pose): Benefits & Steps

Matsyasana, derived from Sanskrit, translates to "Fish Pose." It is a reclining backbend that resembles the graceful movement of a fish gliding through water. Matsyasana opens the heart center, stretches the chest and throat, and stimulates the throat chakra.

Matsyasana is pronounced as "mahts-YAH-suh-nuh."

Matsyasana primarily targets the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and neck. It also stretches the abdomen, hip flexors, and throat. Additionally, Matsyasana stimulates the thyroid gland and improves spinal flexibility.

 Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

How to Perform Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

  1. Begin by lying flat on your back with your legs extended and arms resting alongside your body.

  2. Place your hands underneath your hips, palms facing down and elbows tucked in close to your body.

  3. Press your forearms and elbows firmly into the ground to lift your chest upward.

  4. Arch your back and lift your chest towards the sky, opening the heart center.

  5. Tilt your head back and allow the crown of your head to rest lightly on the ground.

  6. Keep your legs active and engaged, pressing through the heels and lengthening through the toes.

  7. Hold the pose for several breaths, breathing deeply into the chest and throat.

  8. To release, gently lower your chest and head back down to the ground, and then extend your legs and rest in Savasana (Corpse Pose) for relaxation.

 Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

When to Do it

Matsyasana can be practiced as part of your yoga routine, preferably in the morning on an empty stomach or in the evening, at least four to six hours after your last meal. It is also beneficial to practice Matsyasana when you're feeling stressed, anxious, or fatigued.

Preparatory Poses

  • Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

  • Virasana (Hero Pose)

Follow-up Poses

  • Balasana (Child's Pose)

  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

  • Savasana (Corpse Pose)


Matsyasana is connected to the Anahata (Heart) chakra, awakening feelings of love, compassion, and connection. Practicing this pose can help open and balance the heart center, fostering emotional healing and harmony.

Anahata (Heart) chakra



Chanting this mantra while practicing Matsyasana can enhance its benefits and deepen your connection to the heart chakra.

Alignment Cues

  • Press firmly through the forearms and elbows to lift the chest and arch the back.

  • Keep the neck long and avoid compressing the cervical spine.

  • Engage the thighs and press through the heels to keep the legs active.

  • Relax the facial muscles and soften the gaze.

  • Focus on expanding the chest and lifting the heart towards the sky.

Duration of Hold

Hold Matsyasana for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing deeply and evenly throughout the pose. Gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the posture.


Your gaze (drishti) can be directed towards the sky or the tip of the nose, depending on your comfort and balance.

Physical & Spiritual Awareness

As you hold Matsyasana, cultivate awareness of the sensations in your body, the rhythm of your breath, and the opening of the heart center. Allow yourself to experience a sense of surrender and release, letting go of tension and resistance both physically and emotionally.

Beginners' Tips

  • Use a folded blanket or bolster under your upper back for support if needed.

  • Start with a gentle backbend and gradually increase the intensity as you become more familiar with the pose.

  • Listen to your body and honor any limitations or discomfort by modifying or releasing the pose as needed.

Who Should Not Do It: Avoid Matsyasana if you have any neck or spine injuries, or if you experience discomfort or pain in the backbend. Pregnant women should also avoid this pose, especially in the later stages of pregnancy.

Who Should Do It: Matsyasana is beneficial for individuals seeking to open the heart center, improve posture, and relieve tension in the chest and shoulders. It is also beneficial for those looking to enhance respiratory function and reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Benefits of Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

  1. Opens the Chest: Matsyasana stretches and opens the chest muscles, allowing for deeper and more expansive breathing. This can improve lung capacity and respiratory function.

  2. Relieves Tension: By stretching the muscles of the chest, shoulders, and neck, Matsyasana helps alleviate tension and tightness in these areas, promoting relaxation and reducing stiffness.

  3. Stimulates the Thyroid: The gentle compression of the neck in Matsyasana stimulates the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism. This can help in maintaining hormonal balance and supporting overall health.

  4. Calms the Nervous System: Matsyasana activates the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a state of relaxation and tranquility. It can help reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of mild depression.

  5. Enhances Circulation: This pose promotes circulation, particularly to the head and neck regions, which can improve mental clarity, focus, and overall vitality.

  6. Promotes Heart Opening: Matsyasana activates the heart chakra, fostering feelings of love, compassion, and connection. It can help cultivate emotional healing and deepen relationships with oneself and others.

Variations of Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

  • Supported Matsyasana using props like bolsters or yoga blocks under the upper back.

  • Matsyasana with legs crossed in Padmasana (Lotus Pose) for advanced practitioners.

  • Place a folded blanket or bolster under the head and neck for support.

  • Keep the knees bent and feet flat on the ground to reduce the intensity of the backend.

Common Mistakes

  • Overarching the lower back and compressing the lumbar spine.

  • Straining the neck by tilting the head too far back.

  • Holding the breath or shallow breathing during the pose.

Safety and Precautions

  • Practice Matsyasana with caution if you have any neck or spine injuries, or if you experience discomfort or pain in the backbend.

  • Listen to your body and modify or release the pose if you feel any strain or discomfort.

  • Consult with a qualified yoga instructor or healthcare professional if you have any concerns or medical conditions.

Additional Preparation Tips

  • Face towards the east or north direction while practicing Matsyasana, as it is believed to enhance positive energy flow.

  • Wear comfortable, breathable clothing that allows for ease of movement.

  • Practice Matsyasana in a quiet, well-ventilated space with a calming ambiance.

  • Diffuse essential oils like rose or jasmine to promote a sense of relaxation and openness.

  • Choose soothing instrumental music or nature sounds to accompany your practice, enhancing the overall experience of tranquility and serenity.

Matsyasana invites us to dive deep into the ocean of our own being, exploring the depths of our hearts and soul. As you journey through this graceful backbend, may you discover the beauty of surrender, the power of opening, and the joy of connecting with your true essence. Embrace Matsyasana with an open heart and a receptive spirit, allowing it to guide you toward greater love, compassion, and inner peace. Dive in, and let your soul swim freely in the waters of serenity.

Happy yoga-ing, everyone! Namaste!

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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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