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How to Do Fish in Lotus Pose in Yoga

Fish in Lotus Pose is an advanced yoga posture that combines the back-bending benefits of Fish Pose (Matsyasana) with the hip-opening benefits of Lotus Pose (Padmasana). The Sanskrit name for this pose, "Padma-Matsyasana" (PAHD-muh maht-see-AHS-uh-nuh), comes from three words:

  • "Padma"—meaning "lotus"
  • "Matsya" — meaning "fish"
  • "Asana" — meaning "pose"

This variation is suitable for students who can sit comfortably in full Lotus Pose for several minutes and can also perform backbends. If you cannot yet perform full Lotus Pose, avoid this variation.

Benefits of Fish in Lotus Pose

Fish in Lotus Pose stretches and strengthens the spine, back muscles, hips, ribs, chest, throat, and abdominals. By opening up the throat and chest, this pose stimulates the thyroid gland and provides relief from respiratory ailments, such as asthma and bronchitis.

Yoga does not offer us freedom from our life; rather, it offers us freedom in our life.

Judith Hanson Lasater

Fish in Lotus also improves posture, while energizing the body and reducing fatigue. It stimulates circulation and digestion, and helps to ease constipation. It also relieves menstrual discomfort for women. Combining these two traditional poses ultimately calms the mind and reduces anxiety and stress, helping to prepare the mind, body, and spirit for deep relaxation and meditation.

Cautions

Do not practice this pose if you are currently experiencing high or low blood pressure, insomnia, or a migraine. Also avoid this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to the knees, ankles, hips, low back, or neck. Do not attempt to practice this pose if you can't easily perform full Lotus Pose. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.

Instructions

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended, spine straight, and arms resting at your sides. This is Seated Staff Pose (Dandasana).
  2. Bend your right knee and hug it to your chest. Then bring your right ankle to the crease of your left hip so the sole of your right foot faces the sky. The top of your foot should rest on your hip crease.
  3. Then bend your left knee. Cross your left ankle over the top of your right shin. The sole of your left foot should also face upwards, and the top of your foot and ankle should rest on your hip crease. This is Lotus Pose (Padmasana).
  4. Lean back and press your forearms and elbows into the floor. Lift your chest to create an arch in your upper back. Slowly bend your upper body and neck further back until the crown of your head rests on the floor.
  5. Keep pressing through your hands and forearms. There should be very little weight pressing through your head.
  6. Draw your knees as close together as possible. Press your groins toward the floor.
  7. Rest your hands alongside your body with your palms up. If it is possible, hold onto your big toes with the opposite-side hands.
  8. Soften your face and gaze toward your "third eye," the space between your eyebrows.
  9. Hold for up to one minute. To release the pose, press firmly through your forearms to lift your head off the floor. Then inhale as you press your hands on the mat and return to sitting in Lotus Pose. Gently extend both legs along the floor to sit in Staff Pose. Then repeat the pose for the same amount of time with the opposite leg on top. Release the pose, and then rest in Corpse Pose (Savasana) for at least five minutes.

Modifications & Variations

Fish in Lotus Pose can be a great pose to prepare your body for Savasana and deep meditation. Try these simple changes to find a modification that works for you:

  • If you feel any strain in your neck, lower your chest. You can also place a folded, firm blanket beneath your head to support the back of your neck.
  • If your knees don't rest on the floor, support each knee with a folded, firm blanket.
  • If you are not able to perform Lotus Pose, do not practice this variation just yet. Practice Half Lotus (Ardha Padmasana) until you have gained the flexibility and strength to sit comfortably in the pose. If Half Lotus is difficult, begin with Easy Pose (Sukhasana).

Tips

Practicing Fish in Lotus Pose can stretch and relax your whole body, particularly at the end of a long practice. Keep the following information in mind when performing this pose:

  • Both Fish Pose and Lotus Pose provide the foundation for this variation. Be sure to carefully review the instructions for these poses before attempting it! Check out the iSport guides, How to Do Fish Pose in Yoga and How to Do Lotus Pose in Yoga, for detailed information.
  • Keep your neck extended and comfortable throughout the pose. Be careful not to bring your head so far back that you strain your neck.
  • Do not press firmly through your head. Instead, lift yourself into the pose by using the strength of your back muscles.
  • Evenly distribute the curve of your spine throughout the backbend.
  • Breathe smoothly throughout the pose.
  • Remember to change the cross of your legs, not favoring one side or the other. Hold the pose for the same length of time on each side.

Swim & Bloom

Fish in Lotus Pose can bring balance and equanimity to your body, mind, and spirit. By combining these two ancient, traditional yoga postures, you're doubling the benefits! Remember to take it slowly and to be patient. It might take a long time to feel comfortable in Lotus Pose or Fish Pose, let alone both at the same time! If you stay present and focused as you practice, you'll gain all of the benefits no matter how long it takes to reach the full expression of the pose.

Fish in Lotus Pose (Padma-Matsyasana) is an advanced variation of Fish Pose that opens the whole body. Check out this guide to learn more information about this pose!
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