How to Do Fish Yoga Pose

Fish yoga pose (Matsyasana) serves as a back bending as well as a heart-opening pose. Heart-opening poses in yoga provide a number of physical and psychological benefits. 

One of the most important physical aspects of them is the counteraction to the hunched-over-the-computer pose many of us practice at work all day that creates awful body posture.

Incorporating heart-opening movements like the Fish pose into your practice will improve your posture quickly by relieving tension through your neck, throat, and shoulders.

Fish Yoga Pose

Pose Instructions:

  • Lay on the floor on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. With your palms facing down, slide your hands down towards your buttocks. Stop when the back of your hands reach the small of your back. When practicing this pose be sure to rest your forearms and elbows as close to the sides of your body as possible. 
  • Press your forearms and elbows into the floor, lifting your chest towards the sky. Tilt your head back and place the crown of your head onto the floor. Your shoulder blades and torso should lift off of the floor as far as possible.

    Note: Those with less flexibility or strength in their backs may only be able to reach the back of their head to the floor, which is normal! 

  • To exit the Fish pose, exhale while you slide your hands out from under your buttocks. Lower your torso to the floor followed by your head. To counteract the backbend, bring your knees into your chest and hold for a 3-5 breath cycles.


fish yoga pose


  • Proceed with caution if you suffer from a neck injury or lower back pain. If you experience pain, lower your chest towards the floor or place a blanket underneath your head. If the pain continues, unfortunately the Fish pose will not benefit your practice. 
  • To avoid crunching in your neck, limit the amount of weight on your head. Instead focus on applying the weight onto your forearms. 
  • You may keep your knees bent or extend your legs straight out towards the front of the room. Either is fine, but be sure to keep your thighs strong active if you choose to straighten your legs. 
  • If you are seeking a restorative version of fish pose, rest a block underneath the middle of your back. Place the long side of the block against your back and use the shortest height.

See Our Extensive List of Yoga Poses

Fish Yoga Pose Benefits

When the chest opens towards the sky, it opens the heart. The opening of the heart increases compassion and connection which can help one battle depression and other self-defeating issues. This yoga movement can also be used as a strengthening and restorative pose.

  • The Fish pose stretches the front of your body, notably the chest, hip flexors, and intercostals (the muscles between your ribs). Fish also opens the lungs for improved oxygen capacity.
  • The pose can relieve stress and tension especially in your neck and shoulders.
  • Stimulate the organs of your stomach and throat.
  • Loosens the spine and prevents hunched over shoulders.

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