The Knees To Chest Pose Gives Your Lower Back A Mini Massage

It’s so easy but so good.

All the benefits of the chill but very beneficial knees to chest yoga pose.
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Sleepy, lazy yoga postures that involve lying on your back are always a solid choice, especially when they’re actually good for you. The knees to chest pose is one of the chillest moves around, but it offers tons of sneaky benefits — all with little to no effort.

Knees to chest pose, or apanasana, is a supine or reclined yoga posture that involves bringing one or both knees in towards your chest, says yoga teacher Amy Lee Pearsall. The position is a lot like child’s pose, she tells Bustle, but instead of folding forward over your stomach, you relax on your back. It can be done in bed, on the couch, at the end of a yoga practice — or whenever you need to stretch your lower back.

As you bring your knees in towards your chest, you’ll feel the muscles in your back release, which is why this move is great for easing lower back aches as well as period cramps and pelvic pain. While in the pose, Pearsall says you can trace small circles with your knees in one direction and then the other to give your back a mini massage.

According to Steph Ball-Mitchell, a yoga instructor, founder, and lead trainer of Online Yoga School, the knees to chest pose can do wonders for gas and bloating. As you hug your knees in, your thighs press into your abdomen, which can help get things moving downward in your body. She also adds that hugging your knees is incredibly grounding, making this pose extra ideal if you’re stressed or anxious. Here’s how to do it.

How To Do Knees To Chest Pose

Here, Pearsall explains how to do the pose using good form.

- Start by lying on your back with your arms resting at your sides.

- Gently exhale and slowly draw your knees in towards your chest.

- Wrap your arms around your shins or place your hands on your shins to draw them in.

- Press your shoulders down towards the ground.

- Keep your head and neck relaxed on the floor.

- Hold for at least three to five breaths or as long as you need.

How To Modify Knees To Chest Pose


If you don’t feel comfortable lying on the floor, Pearsall recommends trying the pose in bed or on your couch. You can also modify by drawing one leg in at a time starting with your right and holding for a few breaths before switching sides.

If it’s tough to wrap your arms around your shins or if your knees feel sensitive when bent, Ball-Mitchell suggests resting your hands around the backs of your thighs or on top of each knee. It might feel better to bring your knees out to the sides, too, instead of directly in towards your chest.

To take the pose up a notch, Ball-Mitchell says you can curl deeper into the posture and touch your forehead to your knees. “You can also add a little breathwork while in the pose to increase the effects on the core and your digestion,” she says. “Breathing in and out through the nose, you can slightly release the grip on the knees as you inhale, and then as you exhale draw the knees in tighter.”

Common Mistakes To Avoid

If you’re aiming for a traditional knees to chest stretch, Ball-Mitchell recommends keeping your lower back, shoulders, and neck flat against the mat. This will help prevent neck strain and keep you in full relaxation mode so the pose can do its thing.

Studies referenced:

Schmid, AA. (2019). Yoga for People With Chronic Pain in a Community-Based Setting: A Feasibility and Pilot RCT. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2019 Jan-Dec;24:2515690X19863763. doi: 10.1177/2515690X19863763.

Yonglitthipagon, P. (2017). Effect of yoga on the menstrual pain, physical fitness, and quality of life of young women with primary dysmenorrhea. J Bodyw Mov Ther. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2017.01.014.


Amy Lee Pearsall, 200-HR RYT yoga teacher

Steph Ball-Mitchell, yoga instructor, founder, lead trainer of Online Yoga School