In Sanskrit “Matsya” means a fish. A person can float on water, without swimming for a long time like a fish.
Spread a blanket on the ground and sit on it with the legs stretched. Bend the right leg and place the heel on the left hip joint. Again bed the left leg and place the heel on the right hip joint. This is Padmasan or foot-lock.
Then lie on the back. The Padmasan should not be raised from the ground. Rest the elbows or hands on the ground. Now lift the trunk and head. Rest the top of the head on the ground by bending the back well and throwing the neck well behind. Then catch hold of the toes. This is Mastyasan. It is performed immediately after Sarvagasan. Remain in this Asan for 2 or 3 minutes.
Those fatty persons who find it difficult to form a foot-lock may simply bend the legs at the knees and so practise it.
This Asan relieves the crampness and stiffness in the neck caused by Sarvangasan. Matsyasan naturally massages the congested parts of the neck and shoulders. In Sarvagasan the neck is bent well forwards whereas in Matsyasan the neck is bent backwards.
In Matsyasan also the thyroids and para-thyroids receive plenty of blood. The waist, the back and the neck will grow strong. In this Asan the practitioner can breathe freely and deeply, as the larynx or wind-box and trachea or windpipe are thrown open widely. The apices of the lungs which are located just behind and above the clavicular bone or collar bone in common parlance, receive a proper amount of fresh air and a sufficient supply of pure oxygen. The cervical and upper dorsal nerves are nourished with a good quantity of blood and so toned up properly. The endocrine glands, and the pituitary and pineal glands that are located in the brain are also stimulated and toned up. These glands play a vital part in the physiological functioning of the various systems of the body. In this pose the abdominal muscles are exercised. So this Asan removes constipation and massages the abdominal viscera or organs.
On completion this pose gives the exact appearance of a plough. ‘Hala’ means a plough.
Lie flat on you back on a carpet. Keep the two hands near the thighs, the palms towards the ground. Without bending the legs, slowly raise them higher up. Do not raise the hands but raise the hips and the lumber part of the back also and bring down the legs till the toes touch the ground beyond the head. Keep the knees quite straight and close together. The legs and thighs must be in one straight line. Press the chin against the chest. Breathe slowly through the nose. This is Halasan. Remain in this Asan for two minutes. Then slowly raise the legs and bring them to the original position of lying on the ground flat.
There is a better variety of this Asan. When the toes reach the ground, remove the hands and catch hold of the toes. The pose can be repeated 3 to 6 times with advantage. For attaining spiritual benefits, the pose should be maintained for a long time at a stretch.
In Bhujang, Salabh and Dhanurasan the deep and superficial muscles of the back are contracted and relaxed, but in Halasan these muscles are fully stretched and relaxed. These muscles of the back are responsible for the healthy condition of the spine. The abdominal muscles contract vigorously and become very strong. The whole spine is steadily pulled posteriorly. Every vertebra and ligament that is attached to it receive plenty of blood and become healthy. All the 31 pairs of spinal nerves and the sympathetic system are well nourished by a copious blood supply and so are toned up. This Asan prevents the early ossification of the vertebral bones. He who practises this Asan is very nimble, agile and full or energy. Various sorts of myalgia. Lumbago, sprain in the neck, neuralgia, etc., are cured. Obesity or corpulence and habitual or chronic constipation, gulma )chronic dyspepsia), liver and spleen complaints are also cured.
“Salabha” means a locust in Sanskrit. When the pose is demonstrated, it gives the appearance of a locust with its tail raised.
Lie prone (on the face) on the blanket and keep the hands alongside the body, palms facing upqards. Rest the chin on the ground by raising the head a little higher up or rest the chin, the mouth and the nose on the ground. Now inhale slowly. Stiffen the whole body and raise the legs high. The knees should be kept straight. The sacrum too should be raised a little along with the legs. Now the chest and the hands will feel the burden of the legs. Keep the thighs, legs and toes in a straight line. Remain in the pose for 20 seconds and slowly bring down the legs, and then exhale slowly. Repeat the process3 or 4 times according to your capacity. Do not go so far as to induce fatigue. Bhujngasan exercises the upper part of the body and Salabhasan the lower extremity of the body.
The intra-abdominal pressure is increased to a very high degree. It relieves constipation and tones up the liver, pancreas and kidneys. All the abdominal muscles are strengthened to a very great degree. The vertebra of the lumbar and the sacrum bone also get toned up. The sacral, coccygeal and the lower part of the lumbar regions receive plenty of blood and so become healthy and strong. Owing to the Kumbhak done during this pose, the lungs expand and become strong.