Fish Pose - Matsyasana

Fish Pose - Matsyasana
Fish Pose - Matsyasana. © Barry Stone

Type of Pose

Backbend, heart opener


Opens the chest and throat.

Fish is most often done as a counter pose to shoulderstand. This means that it stretches your body (the upper body in particular) in the opposite way. In shoulderstand, the chin is strongly tucked, the neck is extended and the spine is in a position of flexion. In fish pose, the chin is raised, the neck is curved back and the spine is in extension.

Shoulderstand places a lot of pressure on the upper body, so it feels good and is balancing stretch everything out. 

From a chakra perspective, fish has a lot of potential because it stimulates two important areas that are hard to reach. First is the vishudda (throat) chakra. There aren't that many yoga poses where the throat is opened as it is in fish. In the chakra system, the vishudda is concerned with communication and self-expression. It's often summarized as "speaking your truth," so if this area is blocked it means you keeps things bottled inside that would be better let out. Fish also brings attention to the sahasrara (crown) chakra on the top of your head. Again, there aren't many yoga poses that put pressure on the crown, which has to do with wisdom and knowledge.

Even if you're not fully on board with the idea of the chakras, you can still benefit from a pose that engages parts of the body that are often neglected, even within yoga's asanas.



  1. Begin by coming to lie on your back.
  2. Come up to your elbows with your forearms flat on the mat and your upper arms perpendicular to the floor.
  3. Slide your body towards the back of the mat while keeping your forearms in place and puffing up your chest by rolling your shoulder back and tucking your shoulder blades firmly onto your back. 
  1. Press your palms into the mat. You can tuck your hands under your butt if that feels like a more stable position for them. 
  2. Lower the crown (very top) of your head back until it comes to the floor, opening your throat.
  3. Keep your legs engaged and your toes active throughout. 
  4. To come out, press strongly into your forearms and raise your head off the floor. Then release your upper body to the mat.

Beginners Tips

Position a blanket or block under your head if the crown does not comfortably come to the floor. You can also let the head hang if that feels better.

Advanced Tips

If you feel comfortable and stable in fish, you can try the following variations. They can be done at the same time or separately.

  • Bring your arms up towards the ceiling with the palms touching. If you try this variation, make sure that the top of your head stays on the floor and your chest doesn't collapse.
  • Lift your legs to a 45-degree angle.

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