Friday, June 10, 2011

Destroyer of All Diseases

I've been doing a little reading about some yoga poses and came across a story about Matsyasana or Fish Pose. Matsya means fish and is dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. Vishnu is said to be the Source/Maintainer of All Things In the Universe. He could also transform himself. In one story, Vishnu takes the form of the Fish and overhears The Lord Shiva, who holds the key to the Universe and unlocks the mystery of Yoga, tell his wife about his discovery. As Vishnu, in the form of the fish, listens to Shiva, he becomes enlightened, thus, Vishnu becomes the first student of yoga.

Matsyasana is also known as the "destroyer of all diseases." Another story states that the world was becoming corrupt and was going to be destroyed by a great flood. Vishnu transformed himself into a Fish and is said to have saved the world from the great flood. Thus, the Fish Pose has restorative value for the human body particularly if one lives with back and/or neck pain. The nature of the pose provides spinal health which can aid in physical and emotional health. This story intrigued me and inspired me to write this blog entry.

As you set your intention, be aware of any physical pain or discomfort that you may be experiencing lately. If you're experiencing discomfort in your back or neck, this pose will provide great benefit. We often find ourselves in a constant state of hunching over: sitting at our computers, driving, etc. Your intention may simply be to add relief to your body. Allow the pose you're about to practice help move you toward greater relief.

Matsyasana: Fish Pose
Start by lying flat on your back on your yoga mat. Be sure your legs are straight out in front of you and your arms are alongside your body. Shift your body in order to bring both your arms completely underneath you. You may need to squeeze your shoulder blades together to help with this sensation. Your arms will remain straight: your hands (palms facing downward) will be underneath your buttocks. Point your toes to continue extending your legs. With an inhale, lift your chest/heart. Keep your bottom on the floor. You are actually arching your back. In order to help lift your chest, push your elbows into the floor. Once your head is off the floor, carefully allow it to drop back. Rest the very top of your head on the floor. You will be able to see the wall behind you - it will be upside down! Restrain from putting pressure on your head and neck. The sensation of staying in this pose comes from the lifting of the chest. You are now in the posture.

Remain in Fish Pose for at least 5-10 breaths. In the posture, you have created a minor back bend (often used as a counter pose after practicing Plow Pose.) As mentioned, it can bring relief to the back and neck. It further provides a re-alignment of the spine after being hunched over all day! If you do have regular back or next pain, practice this pose at least three times a week. If you experience other ailments, try this pose since it is said to be the destroyer of all diseases.


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