Breath or prana is one of the most important aspects of yoga. Whether you can contort…
Supine yoga poses are asana which you practice while laying on your back. You might be fooled into thinking this is a lazy way to practice yoga, but supine poses can also be as energizing as any standing asana.
Yoga poses in the supine position relieve stress, promote flexibility, strengthen your back, and are calming and versatile. They are generally accessible to all levels of yoga practitioners.
Most yoga classes will end with poses which have you lay on your back, but they are also good poses to begin your asana practice and you can even sequence your entire yoga practice around supine poses.
Here are a few simple supine yoga poses you can add to your practice, or follow them all in sequence for a completely reclined yoga asana practice that will both relax and re-energize.
Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is also called Final Resting Pose. But it also may be placed at the beginning of your practice to get into a meditative state.
Lie down on your mat with your feet a comfortable distance apart and your arms a few inches from your body. Let your palms face upwards.
Let go of any tension. Mentally scan each body part to invite relaxation and presence.
Ananda Balasana aka Happy Baby
Happy Baby gently opens up your hips, lengthens your spine, relaxes your back, and strengthens your legs.
Bring your knees towards your chest. Open your knees wider than your torso and grab the outside of your feet from the inside of your knees. Point your heels up towards the ceiling so that your shins are perpendicular to the ground.
You may alternatively keep your hands on your shins or use a yoga strap to help keep a good grip and resistance in your legs.
Apanasana aka Wind Release Pose
Apanasana is also known as Wind Release Pose, Wind Relieving Pose, or Knees to Chest Pose.
As you lay on your back on your yoga mat, bring both knees to your chest and hug them there as you allow your back to lengthen and relax.
Staying in this position promotes the downward movement of prana for rebalancing and detoxification.
Supta Padangusthasana aka Reclined Hand to Big Toe
This supine yoga pose helps lengthen your hamstrings and improves mobility in your hips.
Wrap your right index and middle finger around your right big toe and extend your leg upwards.
Keep your arm and leg straight, but if your hamstrings feel too tight, keep your leg bent or use a yoga strap to extend your reach.
Either hold your leg vertically or after a few breaths, turn your leg outwards from your hip joint.
Sucirandhrasana aka Reverse Pigeon
Reverse Pigeon is a great hip opener, especially if you find regular Pigeon Pose too challenging.
As you lay on your back, bend your knees and place your feet on your mat. Place your right ankle across your left knee so your leg forms a figure four. Flex your foot.
Thread your right hand through the opening in your legs and interlace your fingers behind your left leg. Bring your left knee towards your chest.
Push your right knee outwards to open up your hips.
Repeat on the other side.
Supta Baddha Konasana aka Reclined Bound Angle
Supta Baddha Konasana is a gentle hip opener also known as Reclined Bound Angle, Reclined Goddess, and Recline Butterfly.
Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together. You can keep your heels close to your groin area or create more of a diamond shape by placing your heels further away from your body.
Allow your knees to open up to the sides until they rest on the ground. If you cannot rest your knees on the ground comfortably, place two blocks underneath them.
Supta Virasana aka Reclined Hero
Supta Virasana is an intermediate-level progression of Virasana or Hero Pose. It will challenge your hips, knees, and even ankle mobility, so ensure you are comfortable in the seated variation before lowering to this reclined version.
Sit on your mat between your heels with your knees pointed forward. Keep your feet flexed. If this is challenging, you may open your knees wider.
Use your hands and elbows to support your body as you lower your torso. Tuck your chin towards your chest to protect your head and neck as you lie down.
Continue until your entire back is on the ground. Place pillows, bolsters, or folded up blankets and towels to prop up your body if needed.
Salamba Sarvangasana aka Shoulderstand
B.K.S Iyengar called this pose the “queen of asanas” and is often the first inversion that yoga practitioners learn.
Place blankets under your shoulders or wiggle your shoulder blades together underneath your spine. When you lift your legs only your shoulders are on your mat, your neck and head should maintain its natural curve.
Keep your feet over your hips rather than over your head. This will prevent your hips from sticking out.
Halasana aka Plough Pose
Plough Pose is a natural transition after Shoulderstand. Bring your hips over your head and lower your legs until your toes touch the floor.
With your toes on the floor, point your tailbone upwards and draw your chin away from your sternum to soften your throat and keep your breath deep and long.
Fish Pose is often practiced after an inversion like Plough Pose as a counterpose. I’ve learned from my teachers not to come from a deep forward fold into a deep back bend or the other way around, but to give the spine some time to neutralize. Since I follow this rule in my own yoga practice, I have no longer lower back pain. To neutralize you can come into savasana or into a spinal twist for a few breaths.
Supta Matsyendrasana aka Supine Spinal Twist
Reclined Yoga Twists stretch your glutes, chest, and obliques.
Bring your right knee towards your chest. Pull your knee across your body to rest on the floor to your left side. Either keep your arms in a “T” position, or keep your left hand on your knee.
Turn to look over your right shoulder to extend the twist up to your cervical spine.
Repeat on the other side.
Matsyasana aka Fish Pose
When you’re ready for a back bend lie down and turn your palms to face the floor. Press your forearms into the ground to arch your back and keep your neck relaxed so your head remains on the mat.
The pressure should not be on your head. Push your heart towards the ceiling and hold for a few deep, long breaths.
Fish Pose is traditionally known as the “destroyer of all disease”.
Setu Bandhasana aka Bridge
This spinal lift pose is a beginner’s back bend with variations for any level.
Bend your knees and place your feet an inch wider than your hips. You should be able to brush the backs of your heels with your fingers.
On an exhale, push your hips up towards the sky and squeeze your knees together to avoid that they fall apart from each other. Either interlace your fingers under your body to support your back with your hands and elbows on the ground, or place a yoga block to help hold your body up.
Chakrasana aka Wheel
This deep back bending asana makes your body resemble a wheel and also activates all seven major chakras in the central line in your body. It is also known by another Sanskrit name which is Urdhva Dhanurasana or Upward-Facing Bow Pose.
It stretches your entire front body and strengthens your arms, and back body.
Keep your shoulder region and neck relaxed while you push up into and hold Wheel pose. Do not force the arch in your spine.
Legs Up The Wall
Legs up the wall is a Restorative Yoga variation of Savasana. Just as the name describes, it is practiced with both your legs up on a wall in a vertical position. Place a bolster, a pillow or a folded blanket under your hips. If you don’t have a free wall, you may also elevate your legs on a chair.
Supine yoga poses relax and re-energize you at the same time. Even if you perform an entire yoga sequence on your back, you will still get a full body practice that will detoxify, restore balance and also strengthen your body and increase flexibility.