Many yoga poses are named after animals and other things in the natural world that they…
Supine Yoga Poses for Relaxation and Re-energizing Your Practice
Supine yoga poses are asanas that you practice while lying on your back. You might be fooled into thinking it is a lazy way to practice yoga, but supine poses can be as energizing as any standing asana.
Yoga poses in the supine position help relieve stress, promote flexibility, strengthen your back, and are calming and versatile. They are generally accessible to yoga practitioners of all levels.
While most yoga classes end with poses that have you lying on your back, supine poses are also a good way to begin your asana practice and you can even sequence your entire yoga practice around them.
You can either add the following simple supine yoga poses to your practice or complete them all in a sequence for a completely reclined yoga asana practice that will leave you feeling relaxed and re-energized.
Savasana, or Corpse Pose, is also called Final Resting Pose. Despite what its name suggests, this pose may also be placed at the beginning of your practice for the purpose of getting into a meditative state.
Lie down on your mat with your feet at a comfortable distance apart from each other and your arms a few inches away from your body. Keep your palms facing up.
Let go of any tension. Mentally scan each part of your body 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 to your chest and open them wider than your torso. With your arms positioned between your knees, reach up and grab the outside of your feet. Point your heels up towards the ceiling so that your shins are perpendicular to the ground.
If you cannot reach your feet, hold your shins instead or use a yoga strap to maintain a good grip and enough 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, bring both knees to your chest, give them a good hug, and allow your back to lengthen and relax.
Staying in this position promotes the downward movement of prana, which, in turn, helps rebalance and detoxify your body.
Supta Padangusthasana aka Reclined Hand to Big Toe
This supine yoga pose helps lengthen your hamstrings and improve your hip mobility.
Wrap your right index and middle finger around your right big toe and extend your right leg upwards.
Keep both your arm and leg straight unless your hamstring feels too tight, in which case you may either bend your leg or use a yoga strap to extend your reach.
After holding your leg vertically for a few breaths, you may remain in the same position or then proceed to 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 to be 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 that your legs form a figure four. Flex your right foot.
Thread your right hand through the opening in your legs and interlace your fingers behind your left leg. Bring your left knee to your chest.
To open up your hips, use your right elbow to push your right knee outwards.
Repeat on the other side.
Supta Baddha Konasana aka Reclined Bound Angle
Supta Baddha Konasana is a gentle hip opener that is also known as Reclined Bound Angle, Reclined Goddess, or 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 side until they rest on the ground. If you cannot comfortably rest your knees on the ground, place a block underneath each of them.
Supta Virasana aka Reclined Hero
Supta Virasana is an intermediate-level progression of Virasana, or Hero Pose. It will challenge both your hips and knees as well as your ankle mobility, so make sure that you are comfortable in the seated variation before lowering to this reclined version.
With your knees pointing forward, sit down in between your heels. 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 towards the back of your mat. To protect your head and neck as you lie down, make sure to tuck your chin towards your chest.
Continue lowering your torso until your entire back is on the ground. If needed, prop up your upper body by placing pillows, bolsters, or folded blankets and towels underneath it.
Salamba Sarvangasana aka Shoulderstand
B.K.S Iyengar called this pose the “queen of asanas” and it is often the first inversion that yoga practitioners learn.
Place blankets under your shoulders or wiggle your shoulder blades towards each other underneath your spine. When you lift your legs, leaving only your shoulders on your mat, the line between your neck and head should maintain its natural curve.
Make sure to stack your feet over your hips rather than 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 up over your head and lower your legs towards the back of your mat 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 breaths deep and long.
Fish Pose is often practiced as a counterpose after an inversion like Plough Pose. I have learned from my teachers not to transition from a deep forward fold into a deep backbend or the other way around, but to instead give the spine some time to neutralize. Since following this rule in my own yoga practice, I no longer experience pain in my lower back. In order to neutralize your spine, you can either come into Savasana or a spinal twist and remain there for a few breaths.
Supta Matsyendrasana aka Supine Spinal Twist
Reclined Yoga Twists will stretch your glutes, chest, and obliques.
Bring your right knee towards your chest. Pull your knee across your body to rest on the floor beside you (left side). Either keep your arms stretched out to your sides in a “T” position or keep your left hand on your knee.
Turn to look over your right shoulder and extend the twist in your cervical spine.
Repeat on the other side.
Matsyasana aka Fish Pose
When you are ready for a backbend, lie down on your mat and turn your palms to face the floor. Press your forearms into the ground and arch your back. Keep your neck relaxed so that your head remains on the mat.
Make sure to not place any pressure on your head. Push your heart up towards the ceiling and hold the pose for a few long, deep breaths.
Fish Pose is traditionally known as the “destroyer of all disease”.
Setu Bandhasana aka Bridge
This spinal lift pose is a beginner’s backbend that comes with variations for yoga practitioners of all levels.
Bend your knees and place your feet an inch wider apart than your hips. You should be able to brush the backs of your heels with your fingertips.
On an exhale, push your hips up towards the sky and squeeze your knees together to avoid them falling off to the side. Either interlace your fingers underneath your body to support your back with the help of your hands and elbows on the ground, or place a yoga block underneath your lower back to help you hold up your body.
Chakrasana aka Wheel
This deep back bending asana, which will make your body resemble a wheel, activates all seven major chakras in the central line of your body. It is also known by the Sanskrit name Urdhva Dhanurasana or as Upward-Facing Bow Pose.
This pose will stretch your entire front body and help strengthen your arms and the back of your 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 legs up on a wall in a vertical position. Place a bolster, pillow or folded blanket underneath your hips. If you don’t have a free wall, use a chair to elevate your legs.
Supine yoga poses will 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 and strengthen your body while restoring the balance in your body and increasing its flexibility.
Also read my article about yin yoga poses.