How to do Thunderbolt Pose: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

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Also known as: Vajrasana

Target: Back, chest and core

Necessary equipment: Yoga mat (optional)

Level: Beginners

Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana) is a yoga pose for beginners mainly associated with Hatha yoga. It is often used for meditation purposes, which is great for people who want to relax their body and mind. Add it to your meditative yoga routine for a soothing experience.

How to do Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

No equipment is needed to do the Thunderbolt pose, although a yoga mat can provide comfort and support to the legs.

  1. Kneel on a yoga mat or other soft surface.
  2. Cross your big toes so your feet support your bottom.
  3. Sit comfortably with your feet and do not place the ball of your foot on the ground.
  4. Place your hands in front of you, on your knees, while keeping your arms relaxed. You can put your palm up or down depending on your comfort. Pulling your hands into a prayer position can encourage the flow of energy.
  5. Keep your spine straight so your back is perpendicular to the floor and not rounded. Pull your shoulders back and squeeze your core, pulling your navel into your spine.
  6. Tilt your neck to support your head as you look forward, avoiding your head down.
  7. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. As you inhale and exhale, your chest expands and falls. Continue to keep your back straight and actively avoid slouching as your breath pulls your posture.
  8. Close your eyes and focus on your inner world.
  9. Stay in this position for as long as you want.
  10. Exit Thunderbolt pose by extending your big toes, kneeling, and returning to standing.

While this pose is simple and suitable for beginners, doing it correctly is important for people of all experience levels.

The benefits of Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt targets the back, chest, and core. Unlike poses designed to stretch and release these muscles, Thunderbolt can help increase their strength. This provides a number of health benefits.

For example, because this pose requires an upright posture, it can increase upper body strength. This helps improve posture, which can correct sagging in your chair. In this way, the Thunderbolt pose can relieve neck and back pain associated with sedentary desk work.

Thunderbolt improves core strength because you work your abs in this pose. This increase in strength provides a solid foundation for performing more advanced yoga poses, while making it easier to perform everyday activities, such as lifting or moving heavy objects.

Vajrasana also widens the ribcage and shoulders, making breathing patterns easy and smooth during meditation. When combined, the Thunderbolt pose, deep breathing, and meditation can help clear your mind and reduce stress.

Other variations of the Thunderbolt pose

You can modify the Thunderbolt pose to better suit your needs and fitness level.

Extend your legs to relieve knee stress

Vajrasana requires leg flexibility to be able to rotate them and sit on your knees. If you can’t get into this pose, try extending your legs in front of you, as in Staff Pose (Dandasana). This will take some of the pressure off your knees and hamstrings.

Changing sitting position for beginners

When it comes to yoga, everyone has to start somewhere. If Vajrasana makes you uncomfortable, start with another seated yoga pose, such as Siddhasana, Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana) or Knees pose (Janu Sirsasana).

Different arm positions for a bigger challenge

Vajrasana is often made more challenging by bringing the arms behind your back. This opens up the shoulders more and even lengthens the wrists. To do this move, wrap your arms around your back. Roll your shoulders and elbows slowly to avoid injury. Then, put your hands together in a prayer position.

Bending your back for a deeper stretch

To make Vajrasana more challenging, arch your back so that your head rests on the floor as illustrated in Little Thunderbolt pose (Laghu Vajrasana). This will provide a deeper stretch in your back, core, and quads. It also expands your ribcage further.

Sitting position for more advanced students

If you’re ready to graduate from Vajrasana, you can easily transition into more challenging poses that still improve your posture, benefit meditation, and engage your core. Two intermediate poses to consider include Locust Pose (Salabhasana) and Knee-Up Ankle Pose (Agnistambhasana).

Common mistake

Avoid these common mistakes to keep your Thunderbolt posture safe and effective.

Round back

This pose puts a lot of weight on posture. You may have certain ideas about what you consider good posture, but Thunderbolt is very specific about its own expectations.

Turning your back into a relaxed, relaxed position may feel more comfortable, but this can actually cause neck and back pain. Keep your spine straight to get the most out of this pose.

Put your head down

Another common postural mistake is not supporting your head weight evenly across your neck. Focusing your gaze straight ahead instead of looking down, this helps keep your head from hanging and putting strain on your neck.

Still too hard

You will not feel pain while maintaining this kneeling position. Certain parts of your body – such as your core, shoulders, and back – are active, but your body as a whole is not stretched or stiff. If you feel stuck in a certain position, relax your posture and relax your body.

Released too soon

Some yoga poses can only be maintained for a few seconds or minutes. Thunderbolt is designed to last for a longer period of time. To enjoy the full benefits, try to stay in the pose for at least 30 seconds. When used for meditation purposes, aim for at least 5 minutes.

Safety and Precautions

Vajrasana is generally a safe pose to perform. Just keeping your back, neck, and head supported can help avoid injury.

If you have sensitive knees, you may need to modify this position so that it doesn’t press down on the floor. One variation you should try is to place a folding yoga mat under your knees and shins.

When you’re new to Thunderbolt, try to stay in this position for 30 seconds. If you are meditating and can stay in this pose for longer, try to hold this pose for 5 to 10 minutes or as long as necessary to help you relax.


Incorporate this and similar moves into one of these popular exercises:

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