How to do the Yoga Fish Pose – Matsyasana


The Fish Pose, usually a counter pose to the shoulder stand, is a back-bending yoga pose. The reason it is called a fish pose, is because if you do it correctly in water, you should be able to float like a fish. In Hatha Yoga it is also the 4th of 12 basic postures.

In the Sanskrit name Matsyasana, the “Matsy” part of the Sanskrit word means Fish.

The Fish Pose is also sometimes called the heart-opening pose. The reason is that it opens the heart chakra (one of the energy centers).

What do you Need to do the Fish Pose?

  • Comfortable clothing that you can stretch in
  • A calm place where you won’t be disturbed
  • A yoga mat or folded blanket

These are the basics that you will need. There are other items that you may need as well, they are covered later in the Ways to Modify the Fish Pose section.


The fish pose is one of the more difficult yoga poses to do correctly. A poor posture could cause injury.

Do not attempt this pose if you are pregnant or suffer from a back or neck injury. If unsure, please consult your health care professional.

Benefits of the Fish Pose

Matsyasana helps to Strengthen your Upper Body. Specifically, the muscles in your

  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Arms
  • And Upper Back Muscles

These are the muscles that helps you breathe a lot of oxygen in, and really breathe well.

Learning to breathe well is important, as we are always on our smart phones or in front of a computer.

Another great benefit is that it helps with spinal flexibility.

How to do the Fish Pose

7 Steps to do the Fish Pose

  1. Come onto your back

    And rest your lower back and the back of the head on your yoga mat.

  2. Slide your arms under your body

    Try to bring your shoulders as close to each other as you can.
    If you don’t have the strength in your upper body, like your shoulders, it is OK to have your shoulders just next to you.

  3. Now stretch out your legs

    Inhale deeply, look up at to your feet and come up onto your elbows.

  4. Open-up your chest

    Roll your shoulders back and try to bring the crown of the head down onto the floor.
    Try and hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds. Balance gently on your elbows and the top of the head.

  5. Gently release the pose

    By sliding your head back, releasing the arms from under the body. Come into corpse pose and stay there for a few moments. Take your hands and move them away from your body. Keep your legs about 3-4 feet apart. Gently stretch out your neck from side to side and allow your breathing to come back to normal.

  6. Bring your feet together

    And stretch your arms overhead. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, bring your arms to your side.

  7. Slowly sit up

    And you’re done 😊

Ways to Modify the Fish Pose

If this is exceedingly difficult for you, you can do the same thing by using yoga blocks or a rolled blanket.

Place a yoga block just below your shoulder blades (where the shoulder blades end).

Place the block in a way, that it won’t hurt you or pinch you. Straighten out your legs until they are comfortable and relax your arms. Then try to bring the crown of your head onto the floor.

If you find it uncomfortable, adjust the block until you find the right place.

Relax in this position for a few seconds.

Related Article: Choose the Perfect Yoga Block

Once you hit the Sweet Spot

If you feel comfortable doing it, bring your feet together. Relax your arms and relax your shoulders and your elbows.

The heart is open in this position. Your rib cage will also be wide open in this position, so the lungs can take in a lot of oxygen. Take some deep breaths.

Allow the chest and the abdomen to expand each time you inhale.

When you are ready to come out, support yourself on your elbows and remove the block gently.

Lie down in the corpses pose with your feet a good 3 or 4 feet from each other. Relax your arms and your shoulder blades. Turn the palms up towards the sky.

Relax your body and relax your mind and just enjoy being in that state.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long should You Hold the Fish Pose?

Once you get into the Fish Pose, try holding it for 10 to 15 seconds.

What is the Fish Pose Good for?

Sometimes referred to as the “destroyer of all diseases”, the fish pose has many benefits. Predominantly it helps with upper body strength (shoulders, chest, arms and back). It also opens your heart and stretches your rib cage, which allows much more oxygen to fill your lungs.

Related Article: Yoga from Home


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