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Matsyasana, One of the Major Asanas of the Gheranda Samhita

PS is practicing yoga since the age of 11. Her yoga retreats in India have helped her gain deep insights into self-awareness.

Matsyasana with straight legs

Matsyasana with straight legs

Matsyasana or Fish Pose is a back-bending pose that lifts the heart chakra and the head points towards the wall. It is one of the major asanas mentioned in the Sanskrit text of Hinduism named Gheranda Samhita.

Gheranda Samhita is an ancient yoga manual named after the sage Gheranda. He wrote this manual to teach his students about the important forms of yoga. The manual probably dates back to the late 17th century.

According to the Gheranda Samhita, Matsyasana can help in self-purification and promotes lifelong self-development.

Why you should practice Matsyasana?

As I mentioned earlier, Matsyasana helps in self-purification. The asana is clearly filled with strong benefits, only if practiced regularly:

  1. Stimulates the hip muscles
  2. Stretches the belly and the neck
  3. Increases the oxygen and blood circulation in organs of the throat and the belly
  4. Improves body posture
  5. Relieves stress and fatigue
  6. Prevents respiratory disorders
  7. Increases height in teenagers as it stimulates pituitary glands
  8. Promotes deeper breathing
  9. Helps fight against infectious viruses like coronavirus and other cases of flu
  10. Acts as a natural massager for shoulders and neck
  11. Boosts breathing speed for Pranayama
  12. Helps open the throat chakra i.e. Vishuddhi
  13. Improves kidney functioning
  14. Reduces menstrual pain
  15. Cures spondylosis
  16. Prevents insomnia
  17. Improves concentration
  18. Refreshes the mood and energizes your cell
  19. Gives glowing and flawless skin
Matsyasana with Padmasana

Matsyasana with Padmasana

How to practice Matsyasana?

You should warm-up a bit before starting this asana to reduce the chance of strain. Here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Sit in Padmasana with a straight back
  2. Take deep breaths
  3. Place the right and left forearm on the mat and move your body backward slowly
  4. Take the support of your forearms and elbows and place the crown of your head on the mat
  5. Arch the back as much as you can without straining
  6. Hold your feet with hands
  7. Don’t put weight on your head
  8. Relax your body and take slow breaths
  9. Hold in the final position for a few seconds depending on your capability
  10. Exhale slowly as you gently come back to the original posture.
  11. Now, relax in Padmasana for a few seconds

Some yoga trainees struggle to start the Matsyasana in Padmasana pose in the starting period. So, you can practice the asana with straight legs as well.

Keep your legs straight and start from step 2.


If you suffer from any of the following problems, then avoid practicing this asana:

  1. Heart diseases
  2. High or Low blood pressure
  3. Migraine
  4. Abdominal surgeries
  5. Back or neck injuries
  6. Peptic ulcer
Matsyasana with lifted straight legs and Anjali Mudra

Matsyasana with lifted straight legs and Anjali Mudra

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Variations in Matsyasana

Matsyasana can be performed in different ways depending on your body flexibility:

  1. As I mentioned earlier, practice the asana with straight legs if you can’t sit in Padmasana pose.
  2. Raise the straight legs a little above from the ground to introduce a challenging variation
  3. Raise the hands in Anjali Mudra (namaste pose) to improve your body balance

You can support the pose with a pillow under the back and the knees.

Note: According to some practitioners, if you can successfully perform this asana in every variation, you’re capable of floating like a fish in the water.

Matsyasana in Padmasana with Anjali Mudra

Matsyasana in Padmasana with Anjali Mudra

Matsyasana demands flexibility. So, it is recommended to perform basic yoga poses to stimulate your body cells. If you directly perform this asana, then it may cause body strain.

Don’t forget to relax for a few seconds to relieve the strengthened muscles.

Related: Simple asanas you can perform before Matsyasana

Matsyasna and the Vishuddhi, the Throat Chakra

It is relatively tough but it is recommended to start the asana in Padmasana form. The reason is the activation of lower chakras. Padmasana helps you stimulate your lower three chakras. When you perform Matsyasana in this form then you can activate your fourth as well as fifth chakras i.e. Anahata and Vishuddhi respectively. This is possible only with regular practice.

Incredible Step by Step Description of Matsyasana by Group of Boys


Prachi Sharma (author) from Seattle, WA on April 05, 2020:

Hi Eric, I am glad you liked it. My father also suffers from joints pain. He takes help of a yoga instructor. It's been 6 months now and he feels much better.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 05, 2020:

Really cool stuff here. I was trying it full on but my joints kept hurting like for a day. Doc said; get over it and modify".

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