Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lift Up and Let Go in Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

One day in yoga class something scary happened. I felt the heartbreak from an old high school boyfriend, who dumped me for my best friend. Then I felt the abandonment of a family member who refused to acknowledge me. Then out of nowhere, I remembered losing a close friend in a car accident. All of these sensations were coming from my chest. They were rising up and creating a puddle of tears on the yoga mat. These emotions were the side effect of the classic Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

Fish Pose is a back bend and heart opener
I didn't realize how much emotional pain and stress I was carrying in my heart until I started practicing yoga. I thought I'd resolved my past hurts. I didn't want to talk about it, think about it or feel these painful emotions ever again.  I came to yoga to breathe and stretch, not weep and sniffle! 

How could a simple pose trigger such a strong reaction in a yoga class? 

The Emotional Effect
Fish is a classic Hatha Yoga pose that represents necessary change and renewal. It is a sneaky little pose that you should not rush through. Instead, sit with the sensation and observe what you've been hiding and holding in your heart. Fish Pose usually follows shoulder stand at the end of a yoga class. But I started to use it whenever I needed to release heavy feelings. I began to fall in love with the pose because it allowed me to confront hidden pain. I could finally surrender  without feeling ashamed.
Heart Exposed for healing 
The Physical Effect
The Fish pose opens the heart and expands the rib cage for easier breathing. The back bends to realign the spine while shoulders rest on the ground. Always complete the pose with a forward bend or Paschimottonasana to balance out the stress on the spine and lower back.
Variation of Fish Pose- Heart open, back arched and throat long 
The Spiritual Effect
Fish pose is teaching me to stop fighting the past. Now I accept being embarrassed, vulnerable, sad and disappointed. These are normal human emotions. I didn't need to hold on to them. I don't need to hide from them. Now I can lift up my heart and let it go!

To learn more about the Fish Pose

To learn more about Paschimottonasana Seated Forward Bend


Jane said...

It looks back breaking. I hope you enjoy the routine as much as you seem to be enjoying it right now in the picture. I am still not too sure about what weight loss program I could try out. I still have a lot of things to work out on myself. Yoga keeps popping up and I really am appreciative of any information about it. Thanks for sharing this.

Sariane Leigh said...

Hey Jane! Surprisingly, Fish provides so much relief for the back. It functions more as a heart opener than a backbend. Try it with a block and do a sun salutation warm up before you try to get into the pose!

Yoga is fantastic and now there are so many options to choose from. If you are in DC, stop by my class!