Fish Pose: Gain Spinal Flexibility with This Chest Opener Pose

A Fish Pose practice comes with an ocean of benefits! Beginners and above will enjoy this asana for better posture and so much more. Read now.

Denise Everheart
fish pose matsyasana

Fish Pose is a chest-opening, back-bending yoga posture commonly used as a counterpose to the Shoulder Stand. This pose has many benefits, ranging from improved breathing to increased spinal flexibility. Though beginners can practice Fish Pose, practicing basic yoga poses helps to build self-confidence before trying the more complex Fish Pose.

Fish Pose is also known as Matsyasana (Mot-see-AA-SUN-aa) in Sanskrit. Matsya means fish, and asana means pose.

Level of Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Fish Pose health benefits

practicing fish pose

The benefits of Fish Pose include these physical benefits:

  • Stretches and strengthens the upper back, chest, and neck
  • Relieves tension in the upper body, neck, and shoulders
  • Improves poor posture
  • Stimulates the digestive organs
  • Helps to relieve constipation
  • Increases blood circulation
  • Relieves menstrual pain
  • Provides relief from respiratory disorders by encouraging deep breathing
  • Tones the parathyroid, pituitary, and pineal glands

Who should not do Fish Pose?

neck injury
If you have any of the following conditions, you may want to modify or avoid this pose.

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Migraine
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Lower back injury
  • Neck injury

Preparatory poses

bridge pose

Step-by-step instructions for Fish Pose

practice fish pose

  1. Throughout your fish pose practice, continue breathing smoothly using ocean breath.

  2. Lie on your back with your legs extended and feet together with hands relaxed alongside your body.

  3. Place your hands underneath your hips, palms facing down. Bring your elbows closer together.

  4. Breathing in, lift your head and chest off the ground.

  5. Keep your upper torso elevated, lower your head backward, and touch the top of your head to the floor.

  6. With your head lightly touching the floor, press your elbows firmly into the ground, placing your weight on your elbows rather than on your head. Lift your chest up from between the shoulder blades. Inhale. Press your thighs and legs to the floor.

  7. Hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can, taking long, deep breaths. Relax in the posture with every exhalation.

  8. Once you've completed the fish pose, lift your head off the ground, lower your torso and head to the floor, and relax into corpse pose

Tips for practicing Fish Pose Matsyasana

 fish pose with neck extended

  • Do some neck stretches or neck rolls to prevent neck strain
  • Take a few breaths before starting Fish Pose Matsyasana
  • Consciously relax your shoulder blades

Fish Pose modifications

fish pose with rolled blanket

  1. If you feel any strain on your neck, lower your chest and lessen the intensity of the stretch. 
  2. You can also support your back with a blanket roll or yoga block underneath.

Fish Pose variations

fish pose with lotus legs

For increased challenge, practice the fish pose with lotus legs to include your hip flexors.

Follow up pose

Try the wind-relieving pose with a raised head for a counter pose.

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few breaths
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The Angle Pose 1

Cat Pose (Marjariasana)

Child’s Pose

Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

Reverse Prayer Pose (Paschim Naraskarasana)

Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Standing Backward Bend (Ardha Chakrasana)

Standing Spinal Twist (Katichakrasana)

Standing Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasanta Padottanasana)

Seated Cradle (Hindolasana)

Easy Pose (Sukhasana)

Forward Lunge (Ashwasanchalanasana)

Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

Upward Plank Pose (Poorvottanasana)

Mill Churning Pose: Chakki Chalanasana)

Monkey Pose (Hanumanasana)

One-Legged Forward Bend (Janu Shirasana)

Two-Legged Sitting Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

Sitting Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

Crocodile Pose (Makarasana)

Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana)

Upward Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)

Locust Pose (Shalabasana)

Side-reclining Leg Lift (Vishnuasana)

Boat Pose (Navasana)

Legs-up-the-wall pose (Viparita Karani)

Lying-down Body Twist (Natrajasana)

Lying Down on Sides (Vishnuasana)

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