An Easy Guide to Matsyasana, or Fish Pose Yoga

Matsyasana, or Fish Pose Yoga, is a great chest opener that stretches and strengthens the upper back and neck and stimulates the thyroid.

Fish Pose

This yoga pose is ideal for beginners to build up the muscles near the spine, to improve posture and balance. The pose also opens the lungs, giving more oxygen to the body to bring on a state of calm.

Watch a clip for this yoga pose 

How to do Mastyasana, or Fish Pose Yoga, in easy steps

Step 1:

Start by lying on your back, legs extended out in front of you.

Step 2:

On an inhalation, gently lift your hips an inch off the floor to slide your hands under your bottom, palms facing down.

Step 3:

Bring your bottom down on your hands and bring your arms in against your sides.

Step 4:

Pressing down on your forearms and elbows, inhale and slowly lift your upper body and head off the floor.

Step 5:

Arch your back, pressing your forearms into the mat.

Step 6:

Gently drop your head back so that the crown of your head is on the floor. Be careful - make sure that the weight rests on your forearms, not your head.

Step 7:

Breathe comfortably through an open chest, keeping your legs and upper body relaxed and extended.

Step 8:

Maintain the pose for around 10 breaths.

Step 9:

To come out, lift your head on an inhalation and gently lower it.

Step 10:

Lower the upper body down on the floor and bring the hands out from underneath your buttocks.

Step 11:

Bring your knees into your chest and give them a hug to counterpose your spine.

Fish Pose

Yoga pose category:  Lying Face Up

Level: 1

The full backbend, with the spine resting on the floor, can be difficult for many beginners. To make life easier, try using a blanket, cushion or yoga block to support you underneath your back, which will reduce the stretch and pull on your chest. With practice, you’ll soon be flexible enough to lean back further and strong enough to hold the pose.

Sanskrit words meaning: 

Matsya - fish

Asana - pose 

Yoga pose health benefits: 

Like all yoga poses, Mastyasana has many health benefits. Use it to help with the following health conditions:


Back pain





Yoga pose contraindications: 

Don’t practice Mastyasana if you have any of the following health conditions: 

High blood pressure

Low blood pressure

Back injury

Neck injury

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Lucy Edge 

is a yoga advocate and writer with three yoga books to her name, including the beloved travel memoir Yoga School Dropout. She writes regularly for the national press, has authored over 150 guides to types of yoga and yoga poses, discovered nearly 250 proven health benefits of yoga through her painstaking classification of 300 clinical studies, and collected more than 500 personal testimonials to the real life benefits of yoga. She is also the creator of our yoga shop – YogaClicks.Store – handpicking yoga brands that are beautifully made by yogis committed to environmental and social sustainability.