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The Fish Pose - Matsya-asana
Hala Asana - Plow Pose
Posture: Matsya-asana - The Fish Pose
Translation: The Sanskrit word matsya means fish, therefore this is the fish posture. Matsya (depicted to the left) is a divine being, found in Hindu mythology, that saved mankind from a universal flood.
Pronunciation: maht-see-yah-sa-na
Difficulty: (3-4)
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"Posture should be steady and comfortable. By relaxation of effort and meditation on the "Endless" (ananta) posture is mastered."
Patanjali's Yoga-sutra II.46-47
Fish Pose (Matsya-asana) Instruction:
Lie flat on the back in the shava-asana.
Keeping the buttocks on the floor, inhale and raise the head, shoulders, back and upper arms off the floor arching the back and raising the chest up. Tilt the head back and place the top of the head flat on the floor.
Raise the elbows off the floor bring your hands up just below the chest and join them at the palms with the fingers pointing straight up (form the anjali-mudra or salutation hand gesture). Hold for the duration of the inhale breath or breath gently through the nostrils to remain in the posture longer.
Return to the shava-asana.

The matsya-asana creates a great expansion and stretching of the chest which helps relieve upper respiratory congestion as well as benefits the heart. Additionally, the sinus are drained and opened from the inversion of the head, stretching of the neck and pressure placed on the top of the head. The thyroid and parathyroid glands are stimulated as well.

Since this is not a difficult posture, it is recommended that you breath while holding it for between two and four minutes. If you are uncomfortable breathing, hold the posture for the duration of the inhaled breath. Repeat two or three times.


Matsya-asana Variations

There is one major variation in the matsya-asana and it is a bit more challenging than the one described above (illustrated above). It calls for beginning the posture in padma-asana or the full lotus seated posture and then lying flat on the back while the legs are still locked. From there on the posture is done the same way as described above.
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