Inspired living

Calm a cranky lower back with knees to chest pose


Ouch – lower back pain! Whether it shows up as ongoing pain or acute niggles from carrying kids, lifting too much or a long drive, many of us will experience a cranky lower back every so often. Apart from the physical discomfort, such pain can create mental irritability and frustration as everyday activities become impeded or impossible.

Apanasana is a user-friendly yoga pose that works to take the bite out of a grouchy lower back. As a nice bonus, the pose also soothes the digestive system and lengthens out the spine.

Apanasana is often referred to as ‘knees to chest pose’, ‘energy freeing pose’, or ‘wind releasing pose’ (which never fails to get a giggle in class – eek!). It’s classed as a forward bend, and as such delivers the benefits of cooling the body and encouraging inner focus.

Bringing the knees toward the chest lengthens the erector spinae muscles which run either side of the spine, as well as the gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles. The gentle action of pressing the upper legs toward the belly also activates a little squeeze for the digestive organs. This helps to move waste through the digestive system, keeping elimination more regular and comfortable. As well, the movement of the knees toward the body matched with an exhalation encourages stale air (including toxins and tensions) to exit the body.

Ready to give apanasana a try?

Firstly, gather your props: a yoga mat or blanket, and a small cushion will be useful. Also, this pose is best practised on an empty tummy.

Exploring the pose

  • Lie down on the back comfortably, on a yoga mat or blanket, in Constructive Rest Pose with the knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Check you are relaxed and symmetrical. Support the head with a pillow or blanket, if desired. Take a few moments to tune into the natural breath moving in and out of the nostrils. Breathe freely and naturally.
  • With your knees and feet hip-width apart, use the hands to gently bring the knees toward the chest as you breathe in. (Hands can either hold the knees, or the back of the thighs, whichever feels right.)
  • Keep your head and shoulders resting comfortably on the floor. Draw the knees in only as far as is comfortable, while keeping the shoulders relaxed, broad and grounded.
  • When you are ready to exhale, straighten the arms as you guide the knees away from you.
  • Repeat 3-5 rounds, moving with the breath; Breathe in, knees away, breathe out, knees in toward the belly.
  • When you are ready to come out of apanasana, roll out to the side, press yourself up to a seated position, and observe how you feel.

Going deeper

Try holding apanasana by hugging the knees in close for 1-2 minutes. In this variation, keep the breath flowing deeply, easily and naturally. Focus on the belly descending toward the spine with each exhalation. You might like to try drawing the legs closer in as you exhale, if that feels good.

Enjoy practising apanasana every day as a general tonic for a grumpy back and maintaining good digestion.




Bronni Page is nuts about living a life full of fun, adventure and connection. She’s quite the "word nerd" and uses this super-power as a health and wellness writer, crafting engaging articles to inspire everyday people be their healthiest, most wonderful selves.

She’s also a qualified yoga instructor, specialising in restorative yoga (the super-relaxing, snoozy, cruisy style).

When she’s not writing for clients or embarrassing her three kids with hilarious mum jokes, you’ll find Bronni searching out the best almond cappuccino in her hometown of Newcastle, Australia.