Knee to Chest Yoga Pose – Apanasana

Knee to chest pose instructions

Ever felt like your body is hoarding all the bad vibes, stress, and maybe that third burrito you shouldn’t have eaten?  Meet Apanasana, or as I like to call it, the “get-it-out-of-your-system” pose.

Apanasana is the yoga move your body needs to flush out all the toxins, both literal and metaphorical.  It’s also known as the wind-relieving pose, and trust me, you’ll find out why soon enough.

The Basics of Apanasana

First off, let’s break down the name. “Apana” refers to the vital force moving outward. It’s like the body’s way of saying, “Let’s get rid of all this junk.”

Apana is the yin to prana’s yang. While prana gives life, apana is all about eliminating waste. Think of it as your body’s natural Marie Kondo.

The Pose Itself

Apanasana is pretty straightforward. You lie on your back, hug your knees to your chest, and just exist in that pose. Simple, right? But don’t let its simplicity fool you.

This pose is a powerhouse for stretching and stabilizing the pelvis and lower back. Plus, it can help calm that raging storm of anger, excitement, anxiety, and high blood pressure you’ve been carrying around.

Step-by-Step Guide to Apanasana

Knee to chest stretch

Here’s your cheat sheet for mastering Apanasana:

  1. Start Lying Down: Lie on your back with your spine in a neutral position.
  2. Bend and Hug: Bend your right knee towards your chest and interlace your fingers just below the knee.
  3. Straighten and Flex: Straighten your left leg and flex your left foot back towards your knee.
  4. Create Space: Feel the left heel reaching away from the left hip socket. Imagine you’re trying to create space between your femur and hip.
  5. Hug It Out: Hug the right knee towards your armpit (or the center of your chest if that feels better).
  6. Relax and Pull: Relax your neck and shoulders. Let your biceps do the pulling.
  7. Shoulder Position: Draw your shoulders away from your ears and feel them widen across your chest.
  8. Press and Release: Feel your lower back press into the floor, creating space between each vertebra.
  9. Breathe Deeply: Inhale deeply, feeling your belly press against your thigh. Exhale and feel your belly withdraw.
  10. Engage Muscles: Engage your lower trapezius muscles to pull your shoulder blades down your back.
  11. Soften Your Gaze: Look up at the sky with a soft gaze, avoiding any strain.
  12. Release: Release your hands and bring them to your sides. Straighten the bent leg to fully release the pose.

Key Points to Remember

  • Keep the extended leg and foot active.
  • Relax the foot of the bent leg.
  • Feel the internal organ massage on the bent leg side.
  • Avoid putting weight on your neck.

More Than Just a Stretch

Apanasana yoga pose

This pose offers a wide variety of benefits beyond stretching. Here are some of them:

Physical Perks

  • Lower Back Pain: Stretches and stabilizes the pelvis and lower back.
  • Anger and Anxiety: Reduces excessive anger, excitement, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
  • Muscle Issues: Helps with muscle guarding, hyperlordosis, sciatic nerve impingement, muscle spasm, spinal stenosis, and disc herniation.

Emotional and Mental Gains

  • Stress Reduction: Provides a sense of calm and relaxation.
  • Better Breathing: Promotes improved breathing and reduced stress.

When to Hold Off

If you have knee problems, clasping the knee or shin can be a bad idea. Instead, clasp the hamstring of the bent leg.  Also, avoid this pose if you have back injuries, lower back pain, sciatica, or if you’re pregnant. Safety first, people.

Preparatory and Counter Poses

Apanasana benefits

One common principle that influences the ordering of poses is the “pose/counterpose” rule. This guideline suggests that specific yoga poses should be followed by other poses that work the opposing muscles or have a contrasting energetic effect.

Get Ready with Preparatory Poses

  1. Little Bridge: A gentle backbend to warm up your spine.
  2. Knee Down Twist: Helps in loosening up your back and preparing it for the pose.

Finish with Counter Poses

  1. Savasana: The classic resting pose to integrate the benefits.
  2. Little Bridge: Yes, it’s good for both prep and recovery.

Apan Vayu – The Downward Energy Flow

Apan Vayu is one of the five vayus (energies) in Hinduism, governing the downward flow of energy related to elimination and excretion.

If this energy is out of whack, you might face issues like constipation, indigestion, and irregular menstrual cycles. Balancing Apan Vayu through poses like Apanasana can help maintain a healthy flow of energy.

Practical Tips for Everyday Balance

Yoga isn’t just about poses; it’s a lifestyle. Here are some tips to keep your Apan Vayu balanced:

  • Balanced Diet: Eat a balanced diet rich in fiber to keep things moving.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water.
  • Regular Practice: Include Apanasana in your daily routine.


How do I properly perform the Knee to Chest Yoga Pose?
To perform Apanasana, lie on your back with your legs extended. As you exhale, draw both knees towards your chest. Hold your knees with your hands, gently pulling them closer to your chest while keeping your back flat on the floor. Breathe deeply and hold the pose for 30 seconds to a minute, then release your knees back to the floor on an exhale.
Can the Knee to Chest Pose help with lower back pain?
Yes, the Knee to Chest Pose is highly effective in relieving lower back pain. By gently stretching the lower back muscles and creating space in the lower spine, this pose helps to reduce tension and discomfort. It’s often recommended as a counter-pose to backward or forward bends in yoga.
Is the Knee to Chest Pose suitable for beginners?
Absolutely. Apanasana is a beginner-friendly yoga pose that can be easily incorporated into any yoga routine. It requires no advanced flexibility or strength, making it accessible for practitioners of all levels. However, individuals with weak ankles, knees, or wrists should approach this pose with caution.
Are there any precautions or contraindications for practicing the Knee to Chest Pose?
While the Knee to Chest Pose is generally safe, people with certain conditions should take precautions. Those with knee, hip, or lower back injuries should avoid this pose or modify it under the guidance of a qualified yoga instructor. Additionally, pregnant individuals should refrain from pulling their knees tightly into the chest to avoid compressing the abdomen.

Final Thoughts

Apanasana is more than just a yoga pose; it’s a lifesaver for your body and mind. Whether you’re looking to relieve stress, improve your digestion, or just stretch out those lower back muscles, this pose has got you covered.