The Matsyasana (Fish Pose), is the counterpose to the Shoulder Stand (sarvangasana) and must always be practiced after it.
The asana is a backbend, where the practitioner lies on his or her back and lifts the heart (anahata) chakra by rising up on the elbows and drawing the shoulders back. The neck is lengthened, and the crown of the head Sahasrara chakra is “pointed” toward the ‘wall‘ behind the practitioner. As the arch of the back deepens with practice, and the heart and throat open further, the top of the head may brush the ground, but no weight should rest upon it.
Having stretched the neck and upper spine in the Shoulderstand, Plough and Bridge, you now compress them as you arch back, relieving stiffness in your neck and shoulder muscles and correcting any tendency to rounded shoulders.
Holding the pose exercises the chest, tones the nerves of the neck and back, and ensures that the thyroid and parathyroid glands obtain maximum benefit from the Shoulderstand.
It also expands the ribcage fully and so aids deep breathing and increases your lung capacity.
You should remain in the pose for at least half the amount of time that you spent in the Shoulderstand in order to balance the stretch.
- Lie down on your back with your legs straight and your feet together. Place your hands, palms down, underneath your thighs.
Note : Your hands should rest palms down, side by side, and your elbows should be as close together as possible under your back.
- Pressing down on your elbows, inhale and arch your back, resting only a very little on the top of your head on the floor. Exhale. Breathe deeply while in the position, keeping legs and lower torso relaxed. To come out of the pose, first lift your head and place it gently back down, then release the arms.
The legs can be lifted about 6 inches off the ground with toes pointed.
The hands may also be placed before the heart in Añjali Mudrā.