Vajrasana (Kneeling Posture)

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How to do it

Begin standing on your knees with your hips aligned over your knees.

INHALE: Sweep your arms up.

EXHALE: Gradually contract your abdomen as you bring your chest down to your thighs and tailbone toward the heels, placing your hands on your lower back.

INHALE: Lead with your chest as you go up to stand on your knees, sweeping your arms up.

Continue to move up and down with your breath.


Pose adaptations

Head turn

Vajrasana: Head turn is excellent for strengthening the upper back and loosening up the neck. It can also work as a great preparation for lateral work (stretching one side of the body at a time) and it helps to strengthen two sides of the lower back separately.

Arms extended

Vajrasana: Arms extended is a great strengthener – it strengthens the core on the way down and the entire back on the way up. However, if the student takes a “nose dive” on the way up or on the way down, all benefits will be lost and there might even be some strain on the back, shoulders and neck. So it’s important not to introduce this version prematurely and to emphasize lifting the chest away from the navel throughout the movement.

Twisting adaptation

Vajrasana: twisting adaptation helps to realign the relationship between the shoulder girdle and the spine, and is very useful for relieving upper back and neck tension. It’s a great move to include in your morning warm-up because it quickly loosens up the neck and upper back.

Twist with sweep

Vajrasana: Twist with sweep is very useful for releasing neck and upper back tension, and it also adds an additional element of stretching the upper back when you move the arms forward and up on inhale.

Segmented inhale

Vajrasana: Segmented inhale is very useful for strengthening the upper and lower back. It also works great for increasing the length of your inhalation, and has a stimulating effect on the entire body.

3 arm positions

Vajrasana: 3 arm positions is a great progression of movements that helps to gradually increase the range of motion in the shoulders, stretch the front of the body width-wise and length-wise, and to strengthen various muscles of the upper back. It also teaches the student what options are possible, so that they could adapt the movement for themselves in the future.

Heart opening

Vajrasana: Heart opening helps to increase circulation to the neck and upper back, and also adds a symbolic meaning of opening yourself up to new experiences and taking them in. It can be used very effectively in integrative practices that focus on “heart opening.”


Vajrasana: Y-shape is great for targeting the trapezius muscles and for making it easier on the neck and upper back than the original pose. It seems like a small change in the arm position, but it makes a big difference in the way it feels, especially for those who have restricted range of motion in the shoulders.

Chair version

Vajrasana: Chair version is very useful for those who cannot get down on the ground or for those who have knee issues. You can do pretty much any Vajrasana adaptation in a chair and will get the same benefits for the upper body. The lower body will not be engaged as much in the chair version; to get the equivalent lower body engagement you can combine Chair Vajrasana with sitting down and getting up off the chair (if appropriate).