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Fish Pose (matsyasana)

Back bend that flexes your spine and releases tension in your back.
 

Fish Pose (matsyasana) - Yoga Posture
Fish Pose (or matsyasana) is a calming pose that provides a good stretch for your neck and upper back. You can also use this pose to increase the flexibility of your spine and release tension in your back. This pose is also beneficial for opening your chest to facilitate deep breathing, which is especially useful for asthmatics.
 
You may want to perform Fish Pose as a counter pose for Shoulder-Stand or Plow Pose because the pose stretches your neck in the opposite direction.
 
While performing Fish Pose, make sure your elbows support the weight of your body, while the crown of your head rests lightly on the floor. You should never feel any pressure on your head or strain in your neck.
 
As you hold the pose, focus on keeping the curve of your spine smooth and even from the crown of your head to your tailbone.
 
You should use caution performing this pose if you have problems with your neck, shoulders, arms or back.
 
Steps:
Begin in Relaxation Pose.
Bring your feet and legs together.
Rock your body from side to side to tuck your arms under your body and position your palms face down underneath you.
(Your arms should be straight, but your elbows should not be locked.)
Inhale and press your elbows into the floor to raise your upper body off the floor.
(Make sure you keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. Your spine, neck and head should be in a straight line.)
(Your legs should be straight, but your knees should not be locked.)
Exhale and lower the crown of your head to the floor.
(Make sure your weight is supported by your elbows. The top of your head should rest lightly on the floor.)
(Visualize the strong arch in your upper back and the width of your chest expanding.)
Hold the pose for 15 seconds to 1 minute.
To come out of the pose, press your elbows into the floor and lift your head. Then lower your back to the floor one vertebra at a time.
After performing Fish Pose, you should gently roll your head from side to side to relax your neck muscles.
 
What can I do if I have difficulty lifting my upper body into the pose?
Place a prop, such as a bolster or rolled blanket, under your shoulder blades. Lower the crown of your head to the floor and extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height with your palms facing up. You may also need to position another prop under your neck to support your neck and head. Your head should follow the curve of your spine and you should not feel any strain in your neck.
 
Is there an easier alternative to Fish Pose that provides similar benefits?
Yes. Begin in Staff Pose, with your palms on the floor behind your hips and your fingers pointing behind you. Lift and round your chest and look toward the ceiling, keeping your neck elongated.
 
How can I stretch my inner thighs and hips in Fish Pose?
Begin in Easy Pose, and then lower your upper body to the floor to perform the pose.
 
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