Supported Fish

Supported Fish

Ack – it’s been more than a week since I’ve posted. Sorry!!  It’s been a rough few days.  Finally after intense urging from my mother and a friend, I decided to get myself tested for allergies.  I knew I had them and that they were making me really sick, but mom and friend insisted that knowledge was power and knowing what I was allergic to was a good thing.  30 shots later (in my arms and shoulder), I had a verdict…weeds, molds, dust mites, roaches and CATS??!!! What???

I’m a little confused as to how I can be allergic to cats when I’ve been super exposed to them my whole life – I’ve never lived with less than two and my parents have 5!! Anyhoo – my cats (or, as I will now refer to them, the cute fuzzy allergens) are not going anywhere, so I am going to learn to get used to allergy shots and pumping myself full of antihistamines.

I have asthma too – though it hasn’t been bothering me as much lately.

All of this venting is actually the lead-up to today’s pose.  When I was in Santa Fe for teacher training, there was a huge forest fire not too far from us and therefore there was a huge amount of ash and other particulates in the air.  I started to practice one morning and immediately had an asthma attack.  After a frantic phone call to my doctor in DC, I told my teacher what happened and he immediately put me into supported fish pose.  Ah relief!  Now, I turn to this pose whenever I am having respiratory difficulties from asthma or allergies.  Disclaimer – I also turned to the albuterol inhaler my doctor sent me…please consult your doctor and follow their instructions should you have any asthma or allergy issues.

Supported fish encourages expansiveness in the chest, allowing the bronchial passages to open.  It is so effective, that you really shouldn’t stay in it past 5-10 minutes because your bronchial passages can get irritated from being open that wide.  It’s also a fabulous chest and upper back opener and I love to start class this way if I notice that anyone’s breath is a little short or hitched.

The key to this pose is the placement of the bolster.  Round bolsters are best for this, but anything you have will do.  Depending on how large and firm your bolster is, you may need something under your head to support your neck or to keep the pose from being excruciating.  You can also use a blanket rolled into a burrito shape in lieu of the bolster.  The middle of the bolster should be placed right on the shoulder blades.  You should feel no crunching in the lower back.

Once you have settled in the pose and adjusted your props if necessary, you can play around with the placement of the arms.  I like them over my head as shown in the photo or resting comfortably on my stomach.  Your legs can be extended out in front of you or in badakonasana if you prefer.  Arms over head turns this pose into a killer shoulder opener as well.

After 5 minutes, see how your lungs feel.  If they are scratchy or burning at all, it’s time to come out.  If you are ok, you can stay here for another minute or two but I wouldn’t push it.  Hopefully, the freedom of breath you found in the pose will allow you some relief for the day.

If you have allergies or asthma, give this a try and let me know if it works as well for you!


  1. Thank you!!!

  2. huh- does the support make a difference in being able to breathe? I am severly asthmatic, and find chest openers to be EXTREMELY difficult.

    also- I too, am allergic to cats. We have 3 😉

    • Hmm – good question. The support makes it easier to accomplish the chest-opening – you don’t have to hold yourself in the position, the bolster does it for you. You can also change up the height of the prop by using smaller or larger bolsters/pillows/blocks etc…to find a level of chest opening that encourages your bronchial passages to open but doesn’t make you completely uncomfortable. You want to be able to try to relax into the prop. My guess is that if any level of chest-opening is painful, then your bronchial passages are too irritated to begin with and this one might not be for you. My asthma is more on the mild side…
      Oh those cats! But we love them. 🙂

    • This was so helpful and easy! Do you have any arletcis on rehab?



  1. Sequence Wednesdays: Lung support | SUPPORTIVE YOGA - […] intense, but longer held back body and shoulder opener, try supported fish pose.  I covered this pose very early…

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