If you’ve ever been lying on your back in a yoga class and sighed with frustration when the teacher says, “Bring your knees into your chest. Just wrap your arms around your knees and roll up into a little ball!” then this post is for you.
Knees-to-chest (or apanasana as it’s sometimes referred to in Sanskrit) is a supine pose that might seem really easy or really difficult depending on the body that you’re in! If you have a large chest, abundance in the front of your body, or–like me–if you’re plus sized (curvy, fat, chubby, or whatever word you like to identify with), then you already know that you probably don’t “just ball up” very easily.
In this video, I’ll show you some ways you can personalize knees-to-chest pose in yoga for plus size bodies.
Benefits of Knees-to-Chest Pose
This pose is a wonderful reset for the spine. Often it’s done as a counter-pose to backward or forward bends in yoga. It creates space in the lower spine where many of us carry tension.
I also like to think of it as giving yourself a hug and taking a moment to reflect on the fact that you’re caring for yourself and your body in a world that constantly tells you you’re not good enough. (Note: you’re totally good enough, just as you are.)
Personalizing knees-to-chest pose for your body
- Lie on your back and bring your knees toward your chest.
- If it’s difficult to reach your legs, try widening your knees (each toward the same side armpit) to make room for your body.
- Take hold of the front of your knees or behind your knees (the back of your thighs). Pick the option that allows you to relax your shoulders onto the mat.
- If you can’t relax your shoulders down onto the mat, make your arms longer by using a strap (or tie from a bathrobe, towel, blanket, sweatshirt, etc.) across your shins.
- Let your shoulders relax onto the mat. Let your spine be long against the floor. Breathe.
- If it feels good to you, rock from side to side and give your low back a massage.
Personalize your yoga practice
Looking for more tips and tricks to help make yoga work for your unique body? Check out my free videos about yoga pose modifications and variations or join the Body Positive Clubhouse, where I have dozens of accessible, beginner-friendly classes and other resources to help you feel amazing in the body you have today. Your first two weeks are free!
This instructional nearly made me cry. I often get recommended this pose because I have a condition that causes tightness in my lower back. However, I have struggled with my weight my whole life and have never been able to actually do this stretch in a beneficial way. Thank you so much for doing what you do, it makes a difference!