Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Matsyasana Mean?

Matsyasana is a reclining back-bending asana. The name is derived form the Sanskrit matsya, meaning “fish,” and asana, meaning “pose.” Matsya is also the name of an incarnation of the god, Vishnu, who manifested himself as a large fish in order to save the earth from a flood. As Matsya, Vishnu was able to carry wise Hindu sages to safety, thus preserving the wisdom of all of mankind.

To enter the pose, the practitioner lies flat on the back then lifts the pelvis so the hands can slide under the buttocks. The back arches and the chest lifts until the crown of the head (or the back of the head for beginners) rests on the floor.

Matsyasana may also be referred to as fish pose in English.


Yogapedia Explains Matsyasana

This asana is useful for increasing energy levels, relieving anxiety and opening the heart. It is part of the primary series of Ashtanga yoga and is often performed in Hatha yoga as a counterpose for sarvangasana, or shoulder stand pose.

In matsyasana, the body is thought to resemble the shape of a fish. It is said that practicing this posture can connect the individual to the balance of earth and water, through the grounding of the limbs into the earth, and the lifting of the chest like the crest of a wave.

In a spiritual practice, matsyasana is associated with opening the visuddha (throat) chakra. When practicing matsyasana it can be helpful to visualize blue light entering the throat and filling it with energy. Opening this chakra can transform negative energy into wisdom. It also encourages self-expression and aids in any speaking endeavor.

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