Rabbit Pose (Shashankasana)

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Rabbit Pose, Shashankasana, (shah-shank-AH-sah-nah)

sasaka (rabbit) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Hare Pose, Sasangasana

Pose Type: Restorative, Stretching

Difficulty: Beginner

a photo of a man in black yoga pants doing rabbit pose

Soothe your mind and body in this deep restorative pose.

Rabbit Pose Fundamentals

Play, release, and recover in this wonderful restorative pose. Rabbit pose is a grounding asana which connects us to our gentler, child-like side.

The Sanskrit name Sasangasana comes from “sasaka” which means rabbit, but we can also find the translation when we look at the word “shashanka” which is often what the moon is called.

The nature of the moon is to be passive – reflecting the light of the sun. We can reflect similarly when practicing the pose – surrendering and releasing all that we hold to a Greater Consciousness.

This half-inversion is soothing for the mind – but it will provide a deep release to your body too. It relaxes the nervous system, and the thyroid and parathyroid glands, aiding with sleep, as well as colds and sinus issues.

The pose may be difficult for beginners, but approaching with a gentle spirit of a bunny may help us reach it more easily. Listening to your body and taking one step at a time will make the pose more accessible, and will also make sure you reach the correct alignment and gain the most benefits.

Rabbit Pose is a part of the Bikram series, where it is used as a counterpose for Camel Pose.

You can use it after a challenging backbend in your own practice, too. It may also be added in a Yin Yoga sequence or as a standalone pose whenever you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders – both literally, and in a psychological sense.

Rabbit Pose Benefits

  • By flexing the spine, Rabbit Pose releases tension in the back muscles.
  • Stretches and lengthens the shoulders, back, neck, and spine.
  • As a mild inversion, it increases blood flow to the brain, and boosts blood circulation in the whole body.
  • Stimulates the thyroid gland, which balances the hormones and improves metabolism. That will also have a positive effect on your immunity and the endocrine system.
  • Stimulates the digestive organs, boosting the function of the digestive system
  • Relaxes the nervous system, which aids with insomnia, anxiety, and depression. 

How To Do Rabbit Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Begin in Child’s Pose. Then grab your heels with your hands.

2. Move your forehead back towards the knee and place the top of the head on the floor. Aim to move the forehead as close to the knees as you’re able.

3. Keep holding the heels to create resistance and lift your hips up towards the sky. Simultaneously, shift onto the crown of your head.

4. When you’re ready to release, first lower your hips, then your shoulders, and your hands last – going back to Child’s Pose.

annotate image of a man in rabbit pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • Ideally, your forehead should be touching the knees – you can move your knees slightly forward to achieve that. Still, don’t worry if they’re not touching – the results will come with continuous practice.
  • Tuck your chin into your chest.
  • Don’t place too much weight on your head – pulling your heels actively with your hands will ensure that weight is minimal.
  • As you progress and when Rabbit Pose becomes more comfortable, you can try bringing the heels together.
  • Pull in your belly and round your upper body to feel the deepest stretch in the back.

Rabbit Pose Variation:

Rabbit Pose Variation: Hand Placement

a photo of a man in black yoga pants doing rabbit pose with his arms clasped behind his head

When you first approach Rabbit Pose, holding the heels the entire time may be difficult.

Instead, you can try interlacing your hands behind your back and reaching them toward the sky. If that is also difficult, you can grab opposite elbows behind your back. 

Make sure you activate your core if you do these variations to avoid placing too much weight on the head.

Rabbit Pose Variation:  With A Blanket

If you are able to reach the full rabbit pose, but it’s uncomfortable, you can also place a folded blanket under the head and the knees to release the pressure.

Even advanced students may want to do this variation when practicing the Yin version of the pose – or holding for more than a minute. 

Rabbit Pose Variation: With Feet Lifted 

a photo of a man in black yoga pants doing rabbit pose with his heels to his buttocks

This is an advanced variation that is appropriate only after you’ve fully mastered Rabbit Pose. Beginning from the normal version of the Asana, try moving your grip to the ankles and lifting the feet off the ground, so the heels are pressing onto the back of your thighs. 

Precautions & Contraindications:

Common misalignments

Releasing the grip of the hands. In classic Rabbit Pose, the pressing of the hands onto the feet is what gives you the most strength – make sure you maintain the pressure even when you lift the hips.

Keeping the head far from the knees. Even if you can’t touch the knees with your forehead – still strive to keep them as close as possible. Doing so will increase the stretch and release in the lower back.

Injuries and Conditions

Refrain from the pose if you have an injury in the back, neck shoulders, or arms. Also, avoid if you have hypertension or spondylitis.

Related Poses

Child’s Pose

Cat Pose

Heart-Melting Pose

Preparatory Poses:

Child’s Pose

Hero Pose

Camel Pose

Counter Poses:

Lion Pose

Table Pose

Cobra Pose

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

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Sara lives in Croatia, near the sea, with her dog. She enjoys exploring nature, and making art. She is currently developing a series of children’s/YA stories and comics in her native language, which she feels complements her work and allows her to live her dream life – having yoga, writing, art, and nature in her every day.

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