Standing Backbend Pose (Anuvittasana)

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Sanding Backbend Pose, Anuvittasana, (AH-NEW-VEH-TAHS-ANNA)

anuvitta (obtained or found) + asana (pose)

Also Known as: Ardha Chakrasana (Half Wheel Pose)

Pose Type: Backbend, Balancing, Stretching, Digestion, Standing

Difficulty: Beginner

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing standing backbend pose

Come into a Standing Backbend and reach your heart up to the sky.

Standing Backbend Pose Fundamentals

This heart-opening standing backbend is a fantastic energizing asana to include at the beginning of a yoga practice.

Relieve tension from your shoulders and neck and tune into the breath as you challenge your balance by bringing your base to the ceiling (or wall behind you!). The asana serves as a reminder to listen to your body and focus on the sensations rather than the shape of the pose.

Standing Backbend Pose can serve as a fantastic preparatory pose for deeper backbends such as Camel Pose, Wheel Pose, or Bow Pose.

Standing Backbend Pose Benefits

  • Can help to relieve back pain and counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle
  • Aids in digestion and massages the internal organs
  • Improves balance

How To Do The Standing Backbend Pose: Step-By-Step

How To Get There:

1. Start in Tadasana, Mountain Pose, your feet firmly rooted and hip-width apart. Engage your legs and draw your kneecaps up.

2. Inhale and reach your arms up overhead in prayer (Anjali Mudra).

3. Trace your gaze up towards the ceiling, exhale, and reach your arms up and backward, opening your chest.

4. Continue breathing fully, make sure there is no pinching sensation in your spine, and keep all four corners of your feet firmly rooted.

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing standing backbend pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • In this pose there is a tendency for your knees to want to bend as you reach backwards. Focus on maintaining your knees locked, instead bending from the hips and spine.
  • Don’t let your shoulders creep up and become hunched by your ears. Let your shoulderblades melt down the back body, creating length in the neck.
  • If you feel excessive pressure or pain in your lower back, come pack to stand, take some deep breaths, and go again, slowly, to a place where your back feels comfortable. Don’t force yourself to a painful posture by focusing on a shape. Instead, focus on the feeling.

Standing Backbend pose variation: Hand modifications

Keeping your hands in a prayer mudra with your arms in line with your ears can be challenging.

If doing so does not serve you, take cactus arms in Standing Backbend. Stretch your arms up and reach backward without taking Anjali Mudra.

For even more support, bring your hands to your low back as you bend. This will support your lower back. Just ensure you are keeping your tailbone tucked in for this variation.

Standing Backbend pose variation: Baby Standing backbend pose

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing baby standing backbend pose

To modify this asana, simply don’t take the backbend as deeply.

Tune into your breath, listen to your body, and if you feel any pain or pinching sensations, come out of the pose.

precautions & contraindications:

Back Or Neck Pain Or Injury:

If you feel any pain or pinching in your spine, take a shallower bend, or follow any of the above modifications. Never force your body into a position that it is uncomfortable in. It may be that backbends are not currently serving you.

Trouble Balancing Or Vertigo:

This asana requires you to have a strong balancing foundation. Drawing your eyes back to the wall behind you can make you wobble! Make sure that if balancing isn’t your strong suit you come into this asana in a safe environment where you could fall without risking injury. Consider padding your surroundings with pillows or blankets.

Preparatory Poses

Mountain Pose

Counter Poses

Standing Forward Fold

Child’s 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.

Photo of author
Maria Andrews is a 200h Registered Yoga Teacher, long distance runner, and adventure lover.

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