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Hatha Yoga Tip


Matsyanasana is the counter pose to the end of the shoulderstand cycle. After practicing fish, there is a deeper relaxation possible in corpse pose. Spend half the time in fish pose that you spent in the shoulderstand or Sarvangasana. The pose is called Matsyanasana as it helps one float easily on the water – Master Swami Sivananda.

The neck is in hyperextension during the asana. If this pose causes discomfort or dizziness come out of pose and do not practice until shoulders and neck become softer with less tension, then practice for only a few breaths.

In this pose, the legs should be kept together throughout and feet relaxed but not apart. The knees are straight. Placing the arms under the body while lying on the back, place the palms face down on the mat and as close to your thighs as possible. Keep the hands together. The tip is to keep the elbows close to each as possible so that on raising the upper body onto the bent elbows, the elbows give good support to the body. Raise the upper body and head on an inhalation, looking towards the feet. Once the chest is lifted as high as possible, and the weight is on the elbows, then the neck can be slowly extended and head held back in a relaxed way without tension in the neck. Breathe deeply using full yogic breath. The top of the head is lowered to the mat in the full pose but the weight is not on the head. It is on the elbows while the buttocks and thighs always remain on the mat. Use full yogic breaths in this open chest position. Hold for half the time as in Sarvangasana.

Tip – keep the mouth closed for good stretch to the neck muscles. Come out of the pose by raising the body onto the elbows, lift up the head to look at the feet and then lower the upper body and head slowly to the mat.

Relax deeply in corpse pose.

Intermediate to Advanced levels: For a deep quadriceps stretch in an intermediate practice, a cross legged version of the fish can be practiced. While on the back, cross the legs and catch hold of the feet and lower the knees to the mat by extending the thighs. When coming onto the elbows on inhalation, the hips are moved up and forward so knees are close to the floor as possible. Then the chest is lifted on another inhalation and the neck extended back with top of head on the mat. Again the weight is on the elbows. No weight of the body is on the feet. Hold for up to a minute. Inhale and push the chest higher and extend the neck. On an exhalation, the back is lowered to the mat and legs are uncrossed. Next time this is practiced cross the legs the opposite way. Relax deeply in corpse pose.


Bends the spine in the opposite direction to shoulderstand.
Relieves stiffness in neck and cervical region and the shoulders, bringing good blood supply to these regions.
Tones nerves of neck and back.
Corrects the tendency to round the shoulders.
The rib cage is expanded, improving lung capacity.
Helps asthma and lung congestion.
Strengthens arm muscles.
Helps improve parathyroid gland functioning which regulates calcium levels in the blood and calcium absorption in the body.
Stimulates pineal and pituitary glands.

This yoga asana is an edited contribution for the Sivananda Gurugram partly sourced and edited from the Sivananda Publication : “Yoga: Your Home Practice Companion” – Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre – 2010.

Be established in mental and physical Brahmacharya. Take Sattvic food. Develop Vairagya. – Swami Sivananda

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During meditation you are in the presence of the Supreme Being. – Sri Swami Sivananda


PRAYASCHITTA [Sanskrit]: Atonement; Penance; Expiation.

Prayaschitta is of two kinds, viz., 1. Extraordinary (Asaadharana) and 2. Ordinary (Saadharana). Extraordinary penances are those which are prescribed in the Code of Manu for the destruction of particular sins. In doing Prayaschitta the offender actually suffers, he punishes himself by long fasting and other ordeals.

Action and reaction are equal and opposite. Complete fasting on Ekadasi and Pradosha days destroys many sins. Everyone should practice this. Bathing in the Ganga, Japa and ordinary pilgrimage constitute ordinary Prayaschitta for the destruction of small sins.

If you want vigour and vitality, become a true Brahmachari from this very moment. – Sri Swami Sivananda