Sunday, 27 September 2015

Yoga legends - Lord of the Fishes

Once upon a time, the Hindu deity, Shiva was sitting on the shore of an island with his consort, Parvati. He was telling her all the secrets of yoga. There was a great deal to tell and after a while Parvati became sleepy. Slightly put out he asked her if she was listening to him and was surprised when a fish, who had been in the water near to the shore replied that indeed he was listening. When Shiva realised that the fish had learned all about yoga, he blessed the fish and named him Matsyendra, Lord of the Fishes. At once the fish took on a divine form and came onto the shore, assuming the seated position we know as Lord of the Fishes Pose. Matsyendra went on to found the system of yoga known as Hatha yoga between the 7th and 10th centuries.

Please note- the twist is contraindicated in pregnancy or if you have back injury.

To practice Lord of the Fishes Pose, sit with the legs outstretched on a block or a blanket. Bend the right knee and draw the leg close into the chest. Take the right foot to the outside of the left thigh. If you can keep the right sit bone and right foot grounded bring the left foot to the right hip, otherwise keep the left leg extended. Take your right hand to the mat behind your right hip or to the block on which you are seated. Breathe in and lengthen your spine. Breathe out and bending  your left elbow, take your left arm to the outside of your right, palm facing forward (in the traffic stopping position). Alternatively, for beginners, hug your right leg into your body with the left hand.  

Lord of the Fishes Pose variation

Work with the breath to deepen the twist. Inhale, lengthen through the crown of your head, exhale start to twist from the abdomen, then the ribcage, then the shoulders. Take care not to strain your neck.  Beginners would be better to keep the chin over the breastbone. As you hold the twist, work with your breath. With each inhale lengthen, with each exhale, you may have room to twist a little more. Come out of the pose in the same way as you went into it. Inhale lengthen, exhale release the neck, the shoulder, the ribcage and finally the abdomen. 

Lord of the Fishes Pose variation

Repeat second side.

Lord of the Fishes is a great pose for increasing circulation to the spine, thereby nourishing the spine. It also refreshes the abdominal organs. When you move into the twist, you squeeze the stale blood from the abdominal organs and when you release the twist, the abdominal organs receive a fresh supply of blood. This is Iyengar's 'squeeze and soak' theory. Added to that the pose stretches the hips and shoulders.  

Janet x

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