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WORKOUT FOR THE WEEK: ​Just Keep Swimming

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Just Keep Swimming

I love fish. I didn’t love it that much growing up, I admit. But now that I am older (and have become more diet conscious), I can say that I can eat fish all day any day. (I can’t say the same for my wife, though.)

In last month’s Workout for the Week entry, we talked about the Half Lord of the Fishes yoga pose. In the spirit of Dory from Disney’s Finding Nemo, I would recommend we “just keep swimming” and gain the benefits of another yoga pose that, although it still resembles creatures of the sea, does not smell fishy at all.

According to Lakshmi Unny Nair from tophealthremedies.com, the Matsyasana (matsya = fish; asana = pose), pronounced mut-see-AHS-ana, is “typically practiced towards the end of a yoga session,” and “is also referred to as the ‘destroyer of all diseases.’” She adds that the Fish Pose “helps to treat numerous ailments like insomnia, depression, constipation and respiratory problems.” I don’t know about you, but I am already excited to learn this pose. But first, some precautions from artofliving.org and yogajournal.com:

Contraindications and Cautions

Avoid this posture if you have high or low blood pressure. Those who have had serious lower-back or neck injuries are strongly recommended not to practice this pose.

Beginner’s Tip

Beginners sometimes strain their neck in this pose. If you feel any discomfort in your neck or throat, either lower your chest slightly toward the floor, or put a thickly folded blanket under the back of your head.

So how does one practice the Fish Pose?

How to Do It

  1. Lie on your back. Your feet are together and hands relaxed alongside the body.
  2. Place the hands underneath the hips, palms facing down. Bring the elbows closer toward each other.
  3. Breathing in, lift the head and chest up.
  4. Keeping the chest elevated, lower the head backward and touch the top of the head to the floor.
  5. With the head lightly touching the floor, press the elbows firmly into the ground, placing the weight on the elbow and not on the head. Lift your chest up from in-between the shoulder blades. Press the thighs and legs to the floor.
  6. Hold the pose for as long as you comfortably can, taking gentle long breaths in and out. Relax in the posture with every exhalation.
  7. Now lift the head up, lowering the chest and head to the floor. Bring the hands back along the sides of the body. Relax.

As previously mentioned, regular practice of this asana brings with it a handful of health benefits, thus its name: the ‘destroyer of all diseases.’ To be more specific, Lakshmi Unny Nair lists down seven:

Fights Constipation.Because the Fish Pose improves blood circulation to the pelvic region, it boosts digestion, stretches the abdomen, and massages the abdominal organs. For best results, practice this pose at least twice a day.

Relieves Stress. The deep inhalation done during this asana helps to alleviate pent up stress and tension. Whether literally or figuratively, since this pose opens up the chest, negative energy and emotions are released. This makes it is perfect for people who suffer from mild depression and/or anxiety.

Combats Respiratory Ailments. Speaking of deep breathing, the Fish Pose also boosts the flow of oxygenated blood into the lungs, which in turn, helps to fight common respiratory ailments such as asthma and bronchial spasms.

Relieves Menstrual Pain. This one’s for the ladies. When it’s that time of the month, some women experience lower back pain. Giving the spinal cord a gentle stretch, the Fish Pose helps to relieve that pain during menstruation.

Eases Chronic Fatigue. If you often find yourself tired, and no amount of rest seems to remedy the cause, you may be experiencing chronic fatigue. This condition may be a result of an under functioning thyroid gland. Good thing the Fish Pose helps tone the parathyroid and thyroid gland. When in good condition, these glands produce normal amounts of thyroid hormones which, when released in the blood stream, can make one feel energized.

Treats Cervical Spondylosis. Cervical spondylosis, also known as cervical osteoarthritis, is caused primarily by poor posture, which the Matsyasana helps to improve by opening up the chest cavity and gives the spine a good stretch. In addition, the Fish Pose “helps to give a gentle stretch to the cervix, the thoracic, as well as the lumbar region.”

Fights Insomnia. Having trouble sleeping? Try practicing the Fish Pose before you go to bed. This asana tones the pineal gland, which releases the melatonin, the hormone responsible for controlling biological rhythms. Who says fish don’t sleep?

Whether you love fish or not, there are more than enough reasons for you to love the Fish Pose. If you cannot include fish in your diet, at least try to include the Fish Pose in your daily exercise routine. One thing’s for sure, this “fish of advice” does not smell fishy.






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