Supported Backbend

Supported Backbend - YanvaYoga


The Supported Backbend is a passive backbend that provides a gentle, supported chest opening while promoting relaxation.

Backbends are a great way to counteract the rounding of our shoulders that tends to happen daily when we are sitting at a desk on the computer, using any mobile device, or driving a car. Many people habitually carry tension in the shoulders and may suffer from tension headaches from doing so. This pose will help open up that area and encourage breathing as we tend to hold it when we are carrying tension. The Supported Backbend adds energy to the body and can leave you feeling refreshed. You will feel a gentle stretch in your upper chest and shoulder area.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
To set up for the pose, place a bolster or thickly rolled blanket crosswise on your mat, about 2/3 of the way towards the back of your mat. If you like, you can add in a folded blanket to support your head. Then, sit down in front of the bolster about one to two feet away from it (depending on your height), with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
Step 2
To come into the pose, use your hands to guide yourself back and down onto the bolster, arching your spine to bring your head down onto the floor just beyond the bolster. The bolster should support your upper back, with the lower tips of your shoulder blades on the center of the bolster. The tops of your shoulders should hang towards the floor but not rest on it. If necessary, shift yourself forward or backward to achieve this alignment.
Step 3
Next, bring your arms straight out to your sides, just along the top edge of the bolster, so the back of your hands, and maybe your elbows, rest on the floor. You can keep your arms straight or bend at the elbows into a Cactus position. Finally, straighten your legs along the floor. Firm your leg muscles and draw the balls of your feet back towards the tops of your shins.
Step 4
When you have finally aligned yourself in the pose, release the weight of your upper body onto the support and bring your attention to your breath. Breathe comfortably for 6-12 breaths and then try to deepen your breath for 6 additional breaths. Gradually work your way up to longer holds, eventually holding the pose for up to 3 minutes.
Step 5
To come out of the pose, bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Then roll off the props onto your side, and slowly come up to sitting.

Benefits and Contraindications


Improves flexibility and focus

Stretching of the muscles and fascia of the front part of the body

Opens the lungs and chest

Reduces stress and tension

Regulates blood pressure


Disc disease

Pain in your lower back

Pregnancy for more than three months


Photo poses in different angles

Modifications and Props

For performing this pose put a bolster, a folded blanket, or a pillow under your back. Find which height is comfortable for your back to hold for a period of time. Use a rolled up blanket under your neck for more support and as a way to allow the throat to open.

If you feel any pain or discomfort, come out of the pose and try another prop at a lower height.

Useful Tips

Honor and work within your limits related to flexibility, strength, and range of motion. Be aware that yoga poses, especially backbends, may cause you to feel a range of emotions. Understand that this is normal and allow yourself to experience the feelings that arise.

  • Focus on lengthening your spine and opening your chest. To prevent compressing into your lower back, elongate your spine as you imagine a line of energy running along your spine and out through the crown of your head.
  • Activate your arm muscles to lift and open your chest.
  • Experiment with leg positions such as Half Lotus Pose (Ardha Padmasana) or Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana).
  • If it’s not comfortable to tilt your head back, keep your neck in a neutral position or use cushions and blocks for support.
  • Use cushions and blocks to support your spine, chest, or shoulders.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I practice supported backbend pose?

The frequency of your supported backbend pose practice will depend on your individual needs and goals, as well as your level of experience and comfort with the pose. As with any yoga pose or practice, it’s important to listen to your body and give yourself enough time to rest and recover between sessions. Here are some general guidelines:

  • If you’re new to supported backbend pose or yoga in general, start with one session per week and gradually increase as you become more comfortable and confident.
  • If you have a regular yoga practice, you can incorporate supported backbend pose into your routine 2-3 times per week, or as often as feels good for your body.
  • If you’re using supported backbend pose therapeutically to address specific issues, such as back pain or stress relief, you may benefit from practicing it more frequently, under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher or therapist.

Ultimately, the key is to listen to your body and practice in a way that feels safe and sustainable for you. If you experience any pain or discomfort during or after the pose, dial back or take a break as needed.

Can supported backbend pose help with posture?

Yes, supported backbend pose can help improve posture by stretching and strengthening key muscles that support the spine, such as the back muscles, abdominals, and chest muscles.

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  • Reclining Hero Pose
  • Supported Supta Baddha Konasana
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  • Supported Bridge Pose
  • Supported Backbend With Head Support

Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

In love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. Iana is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) who has completed the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification by the Yoga Alliance U.S. In addition to that, she is constantly studying and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, yoga anatomy, biomechanics, and holodynamics.