This asana is called as fish posture because this position fills the lungs with air, improving the ability to float in water. Matsyasana gives a backward stretch to the cervical thoracic, and lumbar regions of the spine and the chest fully.
It is recomended to practice the Matsya Asana after releasing the Sarvangasana. During Sarvangasana the head, the neck, the shoulders becomes passive and the lower area of the body become active. In order to create a balance Sarvangasana is followed by Matsya Asana.
There are two methods of doing this asana:
(i) with the lotus pose, and (ii) without being in the lotus pose.
Though the first form is regarded superior to the second; actually both are equally beneficial. The second easier method is without the lotus posture and can be practiced by any person.
Position and Readiness
Make any one of following two positions, Be in the lotus pose. Then lie down on your back while keeping the legs folded in lotus form. After making the spine, neck and head fall on the floor completely, let the thighs also fall down. Breath normally this is the position of readiness with lotus pose. If you can’t do it you may do without lotus position as given bellow.
Lie down on the floor on your back. Fold the legs at the knees and bring the heels near the hips. Keep the knees together and let the heels be separated form each other abut four inches. Put the palms on the floor. make the body straight. Look upwards and breath normally. This is the easy way of readiness.
Bring your palms underneath the hips and the buttock. At the same time fold your elbows.
Lift the head and bend it towards the floor, so that only upper portion of the head (crown) touches the floor.
Make an arch (bending the backbone) between the crown and the flank (upper area of the hip and waist) by giving a pull with your palms to the hip. In this position your body weight is resting at two points - head and the hip. In the beginning start with minimum pull.
Bring your palms to the feet and hold the toes (if in the lotus pose). Now you are in the perfect fish posture. Expand your chest. Breathe deeply with the abdomen and concentrate on the thyroid gland. Stay in this position for about one minute. Slowly come back to the starting position.
For returning, in case you were holding the toes, leave them and bring your palms to the hips. Fold your elbows and support the body weight on them.
Lift the head upward, straighten the neck and put them back on the floor.
Unfold the legs from the lotus posture and stretch them out straight. Bring your hands on the floor and relax. You have completed one round of fish posture
The fish posture normalizes the function of the thyroid, pituitary, pineal and adrenal glands. It limbers and stretches the neck, strengthens and tones the nervous system, the kidneys, the stomach and intestines, the pelvic organs, and the nerves connected with the sex functions.
This is the only posture in this sequence which bends the spine (including the neck) backwards.
For asthmatics, Matsya Asana has a several benefits. It corrects the disorder of respiratory system as a whole, relieves spasms in the bronchial tubes and helps to relieve asthma and other respiratory problems.
It has corrective effects on neck and shoulder troubles. Good effects on facial tissues, correct the disorders of the spine.