I am so lucky to have a wonderful lady called Clare, with many years’ teaching experience, as my yoga teacher. Last week she demonstrated a way of performing the fish posture which I found very useful as I am always cautious about teaching anything that involves taking the head back and stretching the neck. Clare’s method ensures you have the mobility in the right places before you even attempt the posture. I should add that we did not practice this with the legs in padmasana, but with the legs outstretched.
Starting in a supine position, raise the right buttock off the floor and tuck your right hand and arm underneath your body as far as you can. Do the same on the left side. Your hands should be under your lower back/buttock area – the ‘fat bits’. Now for the mobility check. Lifting your head and neck off the floor and your legs off the floor, can you slide your ‘fat bits’ backwards and forwards over your hands? Once you have this movement, you slide away from your head and neck as you come up onto your elbows, and then slide towards your head and neck carefully to increase the back bend and place the crown of the head on the floor.
It is most important that the crown of the head and not the back of the head rests on the floor to avoid straining the neck muscles. Using the slide movement and pressing down strongly through the elbows helps to achieve this.
Precautions and prohibitions: people with high blood pressure, migraine sufferers, and those with neck or lower back pain should not perform this posture.
Traditionally, Matsyasana is considered beneficial in fighting disease. It benefits people suffering from respiratory problems, such as asthma, aids digestion, stretches the abdomen and strengthens the neck. This posture works on the thyroid, pituitary, pineal and adrenal glands and tones the nervous system,
I have subsequently taught this posture to my students.