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Publications
YOGALife - Fall 1995
Table of Contents Om
 ·  Swami Vishnu-devananda Speaks On Samadhi, Rebirth & World Karma
 ·  Memories of Swami Vishnu-devananda
 ·  Subramanya/Ayappa temple
 ·  Yoga Vacations
 ·  Matsyasan - The fish position
 ·  Advancing in Sadhana
The Fish pose

The Fish Pose

The counter-position to the Plough, the Fish is always practiced directly after them. Besides its chief benefit, which it brings to the Thyroid and Parathyroid glands, the Fish does wonders for the respiratory system. It stretches the bronchial tubes and promotes freer breathing. The cervical region of the spine is rendered flexible, thus taking pressure off the nerves. The Fish removes stiffness from the neck and shoulders. It gives a backward stretch to both the cervical and thoracic regions. The chest is thrown wide open; deep breathing is encouraged and enhanced. Matsyasan, or the Fish Pose, is so named because the ability to float in water is facilitated by the fact that the posture releases the inhibitions on the lungs thus allowing them a greater capacity to fill with air.

COMING INTO THE FISH

Hand position in fish pose
  1. Lying flat on your back, bringing your legs and feet together, keeping the knees straight. Place your hands, palms downwards, beneath the thighs so that you are sitting on them. Be sure that:
    • Hands are flat on the floor next to each other
    • Elbows are under the body as much as possible
    • Knees are straight
    • Legs are together
  2. Bend the elbows into the ground; arch the chest until you are sitting up half way up. Be sure that:
    • The weight is on the elbows
    • The knees remain straight
  3. Drop the head back so that top of head is on the ground with the chest expanded. The head should be touching the floor, but the weight is on the elbows. Beginners, try to hold the position for at least 15 seconds, half of the time that you hold the Shoulderstand.
coming out of the fish pose

FISH IN LOTUS

This is an advanced variation which should be attempted only after you are able to sit comfortably in a nice "tight" Lotus with feet high up on the opposite thighs and knees close together. Be sure that:
  • Both knees are on the ground.
  • Each foot is being firmly held by the opposite hand.
  • Elbows are on the ground supporting the main weight.
  • The chest is arching upward with ribcage fully expanded.
fish in lotus

HOLDING THE FISH POSITION

Breathe as deeply as possible, taking advantage of the fact that the chest is thrown wide up. Expand the ribcage, as well as the abdomen, using it to breathe fully with each breath. Do not force the breath. Gradually increase the amount of time you are holding the Fish, until it is approximately 12 minutes. Be sure that:
  • The chest is arching upwards with the weight on the elbows.
  • Top of the head is on ground, but very little weight is on it.
  • The chest is arched upwards as much as possible.
  • Breathing is very deep and regular, but silent and not forced.
  • The ribcage is expanding with each breath.
  • The mouth is closed and breathing is through the nose.
  • The knees are straight; legs and feet are relaxed.

COMING OUT OF THE FISH

Lift the chest slightly. Slide the head back. Lower the back to the floor and relax.
After coming out of the Fish, shake out the shoulders to get any tension out of them that might remain. Slowly roll the head from side to side once or twice, then bring the head back to centre.

PHYSICAL BENEFITS

  • While in the Fish, the primary energy of the body is focused on the Parathyroid glands. These are four small endocrine glands embedded in the thyroid tissue of the neck whose main function is to regulate calcium, controling its levels in the blood and absorption by the body. This is important in relation to:
  • Contraction of all muscles including the heart.
  • Clotting of blood.
  • Bone strength, plasticity and brittleness.
  • Prevention of tooth decay. If calcium is not being assimilated properly by the body, muscle spasms may occur which may interfere with many essential functions including respiration and heart beat.
  • The Pituitary and Pineal glands, located in the brain, are stimulated and toned. The Pituitary is considered to be the "Master gland" because it regulates secretion of all other endocrine glands. However, this gland is itself controlled by the brain and mediates the effects of the Central Nervous System on hormonal activity in the body.
  • As stiffness in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions is removed, nerve and blood circulation in these areas is increased.
  • A natural massage is given to the shoulders and neck.
  • Rounded-shoulders are corrected.
  • Lung capacity is increased.
  • Spasm in the bronchial tubes may be relieved.
  • Helps to relieve asthma and other respiratory problems.
  • The cervical and upper dorsal nerves are nourished and toned with an increased supply of blood.

MENTAL BENEFITS

  • Moods and emotions are regulated.
  • Mental stress and agitation are relieved.

PRANIC BENEFITS

  • Tension and excess heat are released from the neck, throat and shoulder area.
  • The following Accupuncture points are stimulated:
    • Lung 10-11
    • Spleen 12-21
    • Stomach 9-30
    • Governing Vessel 15
    • Conception Vessel: All channels.
  • The practice of the Fish in Lotus prevents loss of Prana through the lower limbs.
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Related Page:
Proper Exercise - The fish pose


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