Matsya means a fish. This posture is dedicated to Matsya the Fish Incarnation of Visnu, the source and maintainer of the universe and of all things. It is related that once upon a time the whole earth had become corrupt and was about to be overwhelmed by a universal flood. Visnu took the form of a fish and warned Manu (the Hindu Adam) of the impending disaster. The fish then carried Manu, his family and the seven great sages in a ship, fastened to a horn on his head. It also saved the Vedas from the flood.


1. Sit in Padmasana. (Plate 53)

2. Lie flat on the back with the legs on the floor.

3. Exhale, arch the back by lifting the neck and the chest, take the head back and rest the crown on the floor. Drag the head further back by holding the crossed legs with the hands and increase the back arch. (Plate 55)

4. Now take the hands from the legs, bend the arms, hold the elbows with the hands and rest the forearms on the floor behind the head. (Plate 56)

5. Stay in this position from 30 to 60 seconds while breathing deeply.

6. Rest the back of the head on the floor, lie flat on the back, inhale and then come up to Padmasana, release the legs and relax.

7. Recross the legs the other way and repeat the pose for the same length of time.

8. If positions 3 and 4 are difficult to achieve, lie flat on the back with the arms stretched straight over the head. (Plate 57)


The dorsal region is fully extended in this posture and the chest is well expanded. Breathing becomes fuller. The thyroids benefit from the exercise due to the stretching of the neck. The pelvic joints become elastic. The asana relieves inflamed and bleeding piles.

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