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If your lower back really hurts, one of the poses you are going to love the most is supported fish, also known as supported matsyasana.

In this pose, you get to lie over a prop that reshapes your rounded upper back and restores a natural curve to your lower back.

All you have to do is just lie there!

Easy, right?

How do you get into this delicious position?

  1. You will need a prop. You can use a rolled up blanket, a yoga bolster, yoga eggs or a Manduka yoga unblock. If you have no yoga props, take a thick blanket and fold it up thickly.
  2. Sit on the floor.
  3. Lie back so that the lower edge of your ribs extends back over your blanket, bolster or rounded block.
  4. You want your chest expanded, your shoulders to roll back and your palms to turn up to the sky.
  5. Position a second prop for a pillow for your head. This could be an actual pillow, another rounded block or another blanket.
  6. Bring your feet as wide as your yoga mat to open your sacrum.
  7. Relax in this position for at least seven minutes to restore the natural curves of your spine.

Why is supported fish so effective for healing your back?

  1. Your spine is supposed to have natural curves to distribute stress.
  2. The curve in your upper back should be no more than 35 degrees. If you are schlumping greater than 35 degrees, that is called kyphosis.
  3. Your lumbar curve should be between 30 and 35 degrees. If your lower back is less than 30 degrees, the disks are more likely to compress and cause you pain.
  4. Supported fish molds your body so that you stop schlumping and restores your lumbar curve.
  5. You allow your body to rest. One of the most common causes of low back pain is adrenal burnout. We need to take the time to rest to restore ourselves on all levels.

Here’s a photo of a client with herniated disks in supported fish. Note that he is using two props for his head. Note also that the props begin on the lower edge of his ribs. He is holding his knee to his chest due to nerve pain. This was one of his favorite poses!

Supported fish pose

Supported fish pose

In my yoga classes, supported fish is one of the most popular poses even among students who have no back pain.

To learn more poses to heal your low back pain, please start at the beginning of this blog series. You can read the first article at this link.