Matsyãsana a.k.a “fish posture” The extreme extension of the spine in this position (see the photograph above) releases tension from the thoracic cavity. The thoracic cavity protects and holds the lungs, heart, etc. We compress the front/anterior side of our body all the time, like whenever we forward bend in our normal day to day activities (hence why stressed people have their shoulders forward). Bending back therefore reduces the possibility of stress accumulation.
How to get into the position
Matsyãsana (also known as ‘fish-posture’) is a yoga position which is described in the Gheranda Samhita as the “destroyer of all diseases”. The Gheranda Samhita is the original Tantrik Sanskrit text on the secrets of Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga. These secretes reveal that to transcend to the spiritual heights of the ancient sages and yogis of India, one must follow the yogic path.
This posture can be done with (or without) the support of the elbows. If you use the support of the elbows, then there is less tension in the torso (and the muscles in the torso are used less) and it is easier to breath in the position.
If you have any neck issues, the neck is better protected when lifting the arms off the floor (and/or lifting the legs off the floor at the same time) when attempting this pose.
Please note that many yoga postures must be practiced properly and may be harmful if not performed correctly / under the guidance of an authorised teacher.
stretches the throat, chest, abdomen, hip flexors, and intercostals muscles
strengthens your upper back muscles and neck
improves spinal flexibility
Contraindications and Cautions
Avoid this posture if you have any issues with your neck or if you have high or low blood pressure.