Friday, March 22, 2013

Matsyasana or "Fish Pose"

To be honest, I really disliked this asana for a long time. Maybe even hated…but as a wise yogi once told, “the asanas that you dislike are probably the asanas that you should be practicing more.” Despite the masochistic tone, there is truth behind the sentiment.

Matsyasana is now a pose that I practice with not only peace of mind, but also enjoyment. There is something to be said for facing your challenges head on, especially in your yoga practice.

Sanskrit: Matsyasana                                    Western Term: Fish Pose

Artistic yogi fish pose drawing

Origin of Word
Matsya = fish; asana = pose

Type of Asana: supine pose

How To:
1.     Lie on your back with your knees bent. Inhale as you lift your pelvis and place your forearms on the floor and hands under your bottom/buttocks/hiney/glutes…any other ladylike word for your “butt.”
2.     Inhale pressing your forearms into the floor and lift up through the upper torso and head. As you lift, imagine someone is pulling you up from the ribs and upper torso area to lower you gently on the top of your head.
3.     Yogi’s choice: keep the knees bent or straighten your legs along the floor. If you  straighten the legs, keep pada bhanda by pressing out through the heels and spreading the toes.
4.     Stay for about 30 seconds, inhaling and exhaling calmly. As you exhale, tuck your chin and lower your head and torso down. Bend your knees into your chest and breath.   

The version of fish asana shown above is a more solar version of the asana, engaging the core with the hands and legs up in the air

Body Points:
*keep energy through the soles of the feet in pada bhanda
*keep weight dropping down through the pelvis
*optional: inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth as you stick your tongue out in fire’s breath

Emphasized Body Parts: belly, chest, spine, shoulders, and neck

Physical Benefits: matsyasana is known as the “destroyer of all diseases;” stretches the psoas and intercostals (muscles between the ribs); stretches and stimulates the muscles of the belly and front of the neck and the organs of the belly and throat; improves posture

Mental Achievements: improve your communication

An aid for beginners: kramas or levels of a pose give us yogis with various levels options. For any given pose, there are various levels of difficulty. This krama that I offer is for beginners or those who are looking for a more lunar variation:

-if you feel a strain in your neck, either lower your chest slightly toward the floor or place a folded blanket underneath your head for padding

For Yogis looking for a Solar Variation:
-bring your legs into padmasana or lotus pose while remaining on the top of your head

Chakra: throat chakra, 5th chakra, also known as visuddha chakra. It is symbolized by a sixteen-petaled blue lotus found in the throat.
-Bija mantra or seed sound of 5th chakra asanas is “ham.” Repeat this word while in 5th chakra poses to connect with your inner truth and communication with others.

Ancient Sanskirt Proverb: “Why should men endowed with good sense speak harshly, when sweetness is within their own power and when sentences can be composed of sweet words?”

Element: sound

*Helpful for yogis with constipation, respiratory ailments, mild backache, fatigue, anxiety, and menstrual pain
**Do not do this asana if experiencing high or low blood pressure, migraine, insomnia, or serious lower-back or neck injury

Happy Spring! Upon returning from another revoluionary yoga training with my teacher, Shiva Rea, on my path to receiving my 500 hr RYT, I was reminded about the benefits of this time of year. As the days get lighter, we move towards a more solar and energized state. This is a great time to focus on evolving creatively. Enjoy the light :) I know everyone here in Portland, Maine is ready for sunshine after a snowy winter.  


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