Supta Vajrasana (Sleeping Thunderbolt Pose)

The Sanskrit word supta means ‘sleeping’ and vajra is the name of a pranic channel (nadi) connected with sexual energy. Vajra also means ‘thunderbolt’ the so-called weapon of Indra, the king of the gods in Hindu mythology. In this context, it is also associated with sexual energy. This asana is so called because it helps to transmute sexual energy into more subtle forms of energy.

There is no equivalent English word for vajra, therefore any translation is bound to be inaccurate. Supta vajrasana is called various names, the most common of which are ‘the sleeping pelvic pose’, ‘the supine pelvic pose’ and ‘the sleeping thunderbolt pose’. The Sanskrit name most aptly describes the asana.

This asana gives the same benefits as matsyasana, therefore it can replace matsyasana in your program.

Technique – classical form

To do the classical form of the asana you should have a reasonably supple back and flexible legs. If you find this classical form too difficult you can practise the simplified form instead.

Stage 1: starting position

Sit in vajrasana5. The knees can be together or separated.

Stage 2: leaning backwards

Do stage 2 as described for the classical pose of matsyasana.

Stage 3: final pose – alternative A

Do stage 3: final position – alternative A as described for the technique of matsyasana. The final pose is illustrated above.

Simplified variation for beginners

Those people who have stiff legs should not attempt the classical form of supta vajrasana. Instead, they should do the simplified form where the legs are kept straight in front of the body. That is, the legs are not folded under the buttocks in vajrasana. This variation is exactly the same as ‘Method 2: with both legs straight’ described under the heading ‘Techniques for Beginners’ in our description of matsyasana.

Stage 3: final pose – alternative B

This is quite difficult if your legs are stiff. Be sure not to strain. If this alternative is too difficult, do the simpler alternative A instead. The movement is performed in the same way as described for matsyasana stage 3: final position – alternative B. The arms can be folded behind the head in the final pose as shown.


Special care should be taken not to strain the muscles and ligaments of the thighs and knees. In this context it is important not to unfold the legs from the final pose. You should raise the body to the starting position and then straighten your legs. If you try to straighten your legs from the final position you will easily injure them. Many people have found this out from bitter experience.

Further details

All other details: breathing, awareness, duration, counterpose, limitations and benefits are as given for matsyasana.

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