Open Your Heart with Supported Fish Pose
My favorite yin yoga posture is a supported variation of Fish Pose (Matsyasana). To celebrate Heart Month, I created the below video to walk you through how to do this pose using either a bolster, two yoga blocks, or two pillows.
Not only is this a pose a great heart opener, but it's excellent to counter forward head posture (FHP), a common postural misalignment that can occur when you work at a desk for long periods of time, or spend hours in front of the TV, driving, or looking down at a smartphone. FHP can occur as a result of kyphosis (the exaggerated rounding forward of the upper back and shoulders).
The video is less than 10 minutes, but if you prefer to read about this pose instead, scroll past the video to find the details in written format.
Step 1: Set up either a bolster or two blocks on your mat, and lay down onto the support. The end ofthe bolster or block should be at your mid-back so that your shoulder blades can rest on the support. The top of the bolster or second block is under your head, so that you can rest your head back and open the throat. If you don't have a bolster or two blocks, you can fold a pillow and lay back on that. If the pillow is not big enough to support underneath both your shoulders and head, bring a second pillow under your head.
Step 2: Shift your hips towards the bottom of your mat and be sure that your pelvis is completely rested on the floor. Legs can be straight, or bend your knees, bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall open.
Step 3: Allow your shoulder blades to rest on the bolster or block. Bring your arms down by your sides with the palms face up.
Step 4: Stay for three to five minutes.
Step 5: Bend your knees, and plant your feet. With your arms down by your sides, press into your forearms and engage your core to sit up off of the bolster or blocks and move them to the side. Lay back flat onto your mat for a few breaths.
Stretches the intercostal muscles between the ribs
Stretches the muscles and fascia of the chest, shoulders, abdominals and neck
Stretches and stimulates the organs of the stomach and throat
Reduces anxiety and depression and increases metabolism
Start with both blocks on the lowest setting, and adjust the setting of the blocks for what your body needs
If you find the stretch to be too intense, place a pillow under each arm for additional support
Avoid this pose if you have high blood pressure, migraines or back problems
I hope you enjoy this pose as much as I do!