Pose of the week: Sphinx Pose

Learn about the variations and benefits of Sphinx pose, a great beginner backbend.

yoga positions for beginners

Sphinx pose is used a lot in Yin yoga where poses are held for a few minutes at a time. It creates and maintains a healthy lower back curve – which can be adversely affected by ageing and long periods of sitting. It is a great substitute for Cobra pose / Bhujangasana, which places weight on the wrists and has a stronger curve in the lower back.

Sphinx pose can also help ease lower back pain and stiffness. Of course, if you already have back pain and problems, consult your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you to practise this pose.

You can practice Sphinx pose in a few different ways to make it right for your body.

Variations of Sphinx pose

  • If Sphinx is too strong, rest on your ribs, sliding the elbows further away (as far away as necessary) to reduce compression in the lower back.
  • Use a pillow, or bolster underneath the arms to deepen the pose.
  • You can spread the legs apart or keep them together for different bodies and effects.
  • You can place a bolster or blanket under the pubic bone, great when you are pregnant.
  • You can support your head with your hands if the head feels too heavy to hold.


  • Strengthens the spine and opens the lungs, chest and shoulders.
  • Raises your energy.
  • Prepares the body for deeper more advanced backbends.

You can practise Sphinx pose with me in my 7 days of Yin: Spine class


If you find it difficult to take 5 minutes a day out to practice Sphinx pose, watch TV or read a book while doing it!

Here is a step-by-step description of Sphinx pose and more of the benefits listed.

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Esther EkhartEsther Ekhart, face and founder of EkhartYoga, brings years of personal yoga and meditation practice, therapy training and study of yoga philosophy into her teaching.