PEAK POSTURE BREAKDOWNS

Peak Posture:

Fish Pose stretches the front of the body, particularly the throat, chest, abdomen, hip flexors, and intercostals (the muscles between your ribs). It strengthens the upper back muscles and the back of the neck, which improves spinal flexibility and posture. Fish Pose also opens the lungs, which improves breathing and helps to relieve respiratory ailments. By positively stimulating the muscles of the abdomen, it also helps to relieve constipation and menstrual pain. Regularly practicing Fish Pose will energize the body and reduce fatigue and anxiety.

How to:

  1. Begin by lying on your back with your legs extended and your arms resting alongside your body, palms down.

  2. Press your forearms and elbows into the floor and lift your chest to create an arch in your upper back. Lift your shoulder blades and upper torso off the floor. Tilt your head back and bring the crown of your head to the floor.

  3. Keep pressing through your hands and forearms. There should be very little weight pressing through your head.

  4. Keep your thighs active and energized. Press outward through your heels.

  5. Hold for five breaths. To release the pose, press firmly through your forearms to slightly lift your head off the floor. Then exhale as you lower your torso and head to the floor. Draw your knees into your chest for Knees-to-Chest Pose for a few breaths, and then extend your legs and rest.

~ image of full fish pose with info on proper alignment ~

Safety & Precautions

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 low back or neck injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.

Modifications:

  • place a folded, firm blanket beneath your head to support the back of your neck

  • for a more restorative variation of the pose, place a yoga block underneath the middle of your back - drape your torso over it and let your arms, throat, and legs release

~ image of modified fish pose with info on proper alignment ~

~ image of modified camel pose with info on proper alignment ~

For Prenatal:

  • Come to seated with the legs extended straight out in front of you.

  • Lean back propping yourself up on your forearms as if you were lying on the beach and watching the water.

  • Bring the big toes together and the heels slightly apart.

  • As the top thighs get heavy and fall to the earth, press the forearms down, stretch across the chest and lift the heart to the sky.

~ image of modified fish pose for prenatal with info on proper alignment ~

Chair Modifications:

In a stationary chair you can reverse the hunched-over-the-desk feeling by stretching out your chest and frontal shoulders in a seated Fish Pose. Added bonus; taking deep breaths here will help soothe you if you’re feeling stagnant. 

  • Scoot your hips to the edge of your chair and place your hands at the back of the seat. Plant your feet down so you are grounded and lift your heart up to the ceiling by pressing your shoulder blades back behind you. Now breathe!

  • Need to go deeper? From this shape lift your seat up and press your hip flexors into the air.

~ image of fish pose with chair variation and info on proper alignment ~

Variations:

  • To open further through the chest and shoulders, begin by lying flat. Lift your pelvis and hips, and then bring your hands beneath your buttocks, palms down. Tuck your forearms and elbows alongside your torso, then rest your buttocks on the backs of your hands. Finally, lift your chest and come to the crown of your head.

  • More experienced students can practice Fish Pose with their legs in Lotus Pose. Begin by lying flat, then bring the legs into Lotus and complete the pose.

~ image of fish pose with variation with info on proper alignment ~

Dysfunctions:

  • Remember to listen to your body and never push the pose too far. If your breath becomes strained, scale back the intensity of the pose.

  • Keep your neck extended and comfortable throughout the pose. Be careful not to bring your head back so far that you strain your neck.

  • Keep your legs strongly engaged and active. Press your thighs down firmly on the floor. This will help you lift your chest higher in the pose.

  • Do not press firmly through your head. Instead, lift yourself into the pose by using the strength of your back muscles and by pressing down through your thighs.

  • Remember, it doesn’t matter how deep your backbend is! Focus instead on evenly distributing the curve of your spine and breathing smoothly throughout the pose.

~ side-by-side images of fish pose with proper alignment vs. dysfunctional alignment ~

Benefits of this Posture:

  • stretches the whole body

  • improves posture

  • opens the heart and throat space

  • physically and emotionally satisfying

Anatomical/ Physiological Focus:

  • heart and throat opening

  • lengthens body

  • back stretching

Emotional/ Energetic Focus:

  • quality of ease and drifting

  • quality of surrender

  • ability to handle what life brings

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