Using elbows as support, slowly fall backwards on the back until you are completely on the ground.
Take hands rearward and place them under the shoulder.
Using hands, lift shoulders off the ground while bending head backwards towards the body till the neck is completely stretched and the body is balanced on the top of the head.
Slowly release the load on the hands and transfer weight of the torso on the head. Ensure that the body is in balance and there is no strain on the head or neck.
Move hands forward to grip toes. Pull on the toes so that the legs, back and neck are in tension. This is a reverse neck lock or matsya-banda.
Maintain position for around 10 seconds. Maintain shallow breathing.
Release hands and bring to side. Straighten legs. Stretch body. Relax.
The drishti (gaze) recommended is oordhva-drishti(open sky gaze).
School of Yoga explains – Matsyasana benefits :
Yogacharya Sundaram demonstrating Matsyasana
The reverse neck lock reverses and compensates for pressure created by the neck lock created by sarvangasana and halasana. So, halasana should always be followed by sarvangasana and finally by matyasana.
This exercise is good for toning the neck, shoulders muscles, upper, middle and lower back. This exercise stretches the chest and abdominal muscles thereby toning them.
This asana increases blood supply to the brain stem and the movement increases its suppleness. The complex and sensitive muscles of the neck and head are exercised and rejuvenated.
This asana is good for stabilising irregularities in periods for women.
School of Yoga explains – Matsyasana contraindications:
If you have any form of back ache, do not attempt this asana without adequate supervision and support.
Should not to be done by people having neck ailments like cervical spondylitis.
Those with cardiac problems such as high blood pressure should start this exercise only after getting proficiency in other asanas and that too, increase intensity of practice gradually, under guidance of a doctor.
Do not perform this asana if you have cervical spondylosis, hernia or arthritis.
People with kidney ailments, hernia etc should avoid this asana.
This asana should not be practiced during menstruation and pregnancy.