Use Banana Pose to Stretch the Spine

Those of you who practice yoga know that there is only “Banana pose” in yin yoga. And, while you’re certainly welcome to practice the yin version of Banana pose, I want to talk about Supta Ardha Chandrasana. When I try to translate the little bit of Sanskrit that I know into English, I come up with Half Moon Pose on the back.

The problem is that that English name is not a thing. No one calls this pose by that name. So, instead, we’re going with the yin name–Banana pose.

Banana pose is a great stretch for the spine. Your body practices side flexion, which is very important for good spinal health. When you have a spine that is flexible, you make it less likely for injuries such as bulging discs. Here’s more on this stretch to help your spine work like it’s intended.

Banana Pose–On Your Back

To practice Banana pose the yin way, you need to be on your back. The version where you are on your side will not work for a yin practice. It is, however, a great yang version. The directions that follow are for a yang version of Banana pose.

  1. Begin in a straight line with energy reaching from your skull through your heels. Make sure your legs are close together and your heels are pressing into the mat.
  2. Reach your arms above your head with your palms facing each other. Feel your side body lengthen as you stretch long against the mat.
  3. Use ujjayi breathing.
  4. banana poseWalk your feet over to the left side. Make sure you can still keep your legs together.
  5. Slide your upper body to the left. Keep the length in your spine.
  6. Let your left hand gently grab your right wrist to increase the stretch.
  7. Take 5-8 breaths here.
  8. Release and come back to center.
  9. Follow steps 1-8 for the left side stretch.

Banana Pose–On Your Side

  1. Begin on your side with your right arm straight against the mat. Make sure that you are in a perfect line. You should be able to feel energy from the top of your head through your heels.
  2. Turn your palm down for extra support or turn the palm up to increase the challenge.
  3. Bring your top arm to the outside of your thigh. Normally, I find the outside seam of my pants with my fingertips.
  4. Use ujjayi breathing.
  5. Inhale and engage the abdominals to prepare.
  6. banana poseExhale and lift your legs and your upper body equally. Your waist should not slam down toward the floor. Check that your feet and your head are lifted to the same approximate height. You should look like a smile. If your right palm is rotated up, allow your bottom arm to lift with you as you raise up.
  7. Hold for several breaths, then lower.
  8. Practice this pose two or three times.
  9. After completing this exercise, switch sides. Repeat all of these exercises in the same order and with the same number of repetitions as the first side.

Banana Pose Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What is your favorite way to practice side flexion? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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