Matsyasana Pose

Matsyasana in Sanskrit means “fish pose”.


If you want to perform this pose completely, it definitely means that you are in the lotus pose, as far as your legs are concerned. However, given that the lotus pose is a challenge for most practitioners, it is perfectly fine to perform the fish pose with the legs fully extended.

There are different variations of this pose (easier and harder). We will discuss them in more detail shortly.

Matsyasana belongs to the yoga poses that lead to fine stretching of the entire spinal column that is to the so-called “backbend” poses.

Because the practitioner’s chest opens during this pose, this pose opens the heart chakra. So, if you want to have more compassion for other living beings (not just humans), have more love and more forgiveness, feel free to incorporate this pose into your practice.

This balances your heart chakra. Otherwise, if your heart chakra is blocked or out of balance, it can lead to problems on both the physical and psychological levels of your being. Physically, you may face chest pains, circulatory problems, asthma, or high or low blood pressure. In the worst case, it is possible to have a heart attack. On a psychological level, it is possible that an unbalanced heart chakra causes a feeling of isolation in relation to other people (both people in the immediate environment and people in the distant environment). Therefore, the occurrence of a dysfunctional relationship is very common when people are dealing with an unbalanced heart chakra.


As far as the actual practice of this pose is concerned, there are several variations both for practitioners who are advanced and those who are at the beginning of their yoga practice.

If you have neck problems (stiffness in the neck, recent surgery), perform this pose with increased attention. Of course, if you are facing any of the said problems, you don’t have to throw your head all the way back if you don’t feel comfortable. In one of the variations, you can place a blanket under your head on which to rest your head. In case any back arching of the neck is challenging for you, you can still perform this pose with the exception of arching your head back but looking forward, while your chin goes towards the sternum. During the pose itself, the head must not move to the left or to the right in order not to injure the neck vertebrae.

If you belong to the group of advanced practitioners, feel free to practice this pose while you are in the lotus pose when it comes to your legs. Also, grasp the big toes of your feet with your fingers. The full pose, or the most advanced pose, means that the top of your head is resting on the yoga mat while your saddle halves are completely raised.

The first variation involves lowering your seat halves onto your yoga mat if you can’t lift them up. Likewise, if you are unable to be in the lotus pose while performing this pose, feel free to fully extend both of your legs.

Also, one of the more demanding variations of this pose is that, while you are in this pose (legs in lotus, crown of head on your yoga mat, saddle halves raised), join your palms in the so-called anjali mudra. They can be joined at the chest or fully extended above the chest or above the head. In this way, there is a fine stretching of your arms and the opening of the entire shoulder girdle and the space between the shoulder blades.

The full pose also means that you have your arms tucked under the saddle halves, with your palms facing down. The arms are bent at the elbows, which means that the entire surface of the forearms rests on the yoga mat. If the pressure on the backs of your hands is unbearable, the following variations are definitely recommended for you.

The first variation involves placing your hands on the right and left sides of your body, palms still facing down, but the hands are not tucked under the saddle halves. Therefore, there is no pressure on the backs of the hands that would exist in the eventual full pose. The more you push the yoga mat with your palms in this pose, the more you will open your chest, and vice versa.

Another variation involves resting your palms on your lower back, with your fingers pointing down, while your elbows are tucked in toward your midsection. The more you push the lower back with your palms, the more you will open the chest.

Since the full execution of this pose involves a fine stretch and lengthening of your entire spinal column, if this is currently challenging for your spine, you can use one of the following aids: a blanket or a block. In both variants, you can place a blanket or block under the midback, lower back, and, the neck. The pose of the aids is determined by how tightly your body is locked. Some just need a block or blanket placed under the middle of the back. Some practitioners require assistance to be placed in each of the positions listed, while others do not.

These aids provide you with support as you perform this position. In this way, you can enter the same pose more easily and remain in the same pose in an acceptable way. It is recommended that you try to stay in the pose for a minute or two. If you feel you can stay longer in the pose, stay.

While you are in this pose with your legs stretched, it is advised that your legs be active the whole time so that your leg muscles are tight and your toes are stretched forward.

In addition, one of the more difficult variations of this pose involves raising and stretching the legs at 45 degrees while the palms are in anjali mudra and the arms are stretched towards the sky.

By performing this pose, you improve the functioning of the heart chakra, finely stretch the entire spinal column, strengthen the back muscles (especially the lower back), open the chest, stretch the cervical vertebrae, finely stretch the arms (in more advanced variations), and open the space between the shoulders and the space between the shoulder blades.


Matsyasana is one of those poses that has a large number of variations. As a result, it can be practiced by all practitioners, including those who are new to yoga as well as those with more experience.

According to old yogic texts, this pose is considered good for eliminating all possible diseases.

So, if you want to see a healthy and lively old age, add the Matsyasana pose to your yoga practice. Your body will thank you.

About the author

Urosh Martinovic

Urosh Martinovic is a yoga and mindfulness teacher. He has experience in more than 7,000 guided classes. His work includes 1 on 1 online classes and workshops. Uros is a founder of holistic portal for Balkan Moja Solja Joge (My cup of yoga).