Fish Pose Matyasana
This asana (pose) is a back bend and strongly opens the chest and throat. It is said to be “the destroyer of all disease” and is a perfect pose for the cold and flu season. Fish helps to open the lungs for better breathing, improving symptoms of asthma and bronchial problems. The pose helps to improve posture by strengthening the muscles of the upper back and neck while stretching the hip flexors, intercostals (between the ribs), abdominal muscles and neck. It helps to stimulate the digestive organs in the belly and the parathyroid gland (located in the throat) for greater absorption of calcium in the body.
Energetically Fish unblocks the throat chakra (one of our energy centers) in the body for greater expression and communication. A great pose if you’re a singer or have to give an important speech.
Lie on the floor with your legs together and your toes pointed. Roll your arms inward underneath your torso with the arms straight and the palms facing down. Begin to squeeze your shoulder blades together to start creating a lift in your chest. Place weight in the forearms and bend the elbows lifting the torso. Start to arch the spine lifting the chest to the sky and gently bringing the crown of the head to the floor. If you have neck issues, use caution and bring the back of the head to the floor lessening the arch in the neck. There will be weight in the head but primarily you are weight bearing in the forearms. The legs should firmly press together as you lift out of the lower back and continue to lift the breast bone upward.
The goal is to create a deep back bend that has a lot of space between the back of the ribcage and the floor. If you have trouble initially creating this arch, place a rolled up blanket under the torso for support. Breathe expansively though the chest and stay here for 10 breaths or however long is comfortable for you.
To deepen the pose:
If you do not have back or neck issues, begin to lift the legs off the ground keeping them straight, lifting to a 45 degree angle. Stay here for 5 to 10 breaths if possible. Another option is to also lift the arms to this position.
To come out of the pose, with the legs and arms on the ground, bend the forearms and lift the chest. Elongate the spine and lower to the earth pulling the knees into the chest. Allow this invigorating energy settle into the body as you notice how deep your breath becomes.
Practice this pose anytime you want to open the chest and the throat to create more expansive breathing as well as greater verbal expression. As you gain more extension in your spine, you will feel more open in the pose.