Matsyasana, also known as the Fish Pose is a popular yet traditional asana. The poses asks the practitioner to open their chest and throat while reclining on the floor. The pose can be done with and without blocks. Each variation has benefits of its own. Using blocks to support this pose can be very beneficial for beginners who have yet to attain the range of motion and strength necessary to be well aligned in an unsupported version of the pose. Blocks also make the pose more restorative which is a nice option for all yogis, regardless of experience.
How To Modify Fish Pose (Matsyasana) With Yoga Blocks
- Begin by placing a block on your mat a few feet from the short end. Align the longer end of the yoga block with the short end of your mat. Place a second block about one foot away from the first block closer to the end of your mat.
- Sit with your back to the blocks and prepare to drape your chest and head over them. As you roll back, come to resting with the first block centered on your back directly below your heart center. Keep your shoulder blades tucked in so they aren’t pressing into the outer edges of the block. The block closer to the end of your mat is there for your head to rest on.
- Modify the placement of your body on the blocks until you feel well supported and comfortable. You may need to play with various heights of the blocks to find the best fit for your body. The higher the heart block is, the more your upper back will have extend. Same goes for the head block. Some people like that block to be on a lower height than the heart block so they feel more open through their throat. Others prefer it to be higher so that there is less extension through the cervical spine. A final suggestion to try if the heart support just doesn’t feel good is to turn the block so the long end of the block and the long end of your mat are going in the same direction. Find what feels best for you.
- Once things are situated properly, allow your palms to turn open and upward toward the ceiling while the backs of your hands rest on the floor along your sides. You can choose to put your legs in butterfly pose, knees bent, or legs extended long on your mat. Allow your breath to move as effortlessly as possible while your body melts over the blocks.
This supported restorative version of fish pose usually feels fantastic after a long day of driving, working at a desk, or being on a smartphone. It can help to open the heart chakra and improve respiratory function.
Any kind of block can be used as support but a softer foam block may feel better. If you have firm wood or cork blocks that feel too hard, consider draping a blanket or towel over them before reclining back to soften the surface.