If you are reading this article I want to say congratulations on sticking with your back training regime. Preparing the spine for chest stands doesn’t happen over night, it takes dedication and perseverance.

Chest stands are one of the most prominent contortion poses today. They are dramatic and capture attention. Chest stands are an advanced posture so please attempt your chest stand today with caution.

Pre Requisites:

In order to start working on your chest stand there are a few pre requisites you will need to meet.

  • Neck Flexibility: Anterior and Posterior Flexibility.
  • Thoracic Spine Strength & Flexibility.
  • Lower Back Strength and Flexibility.
  • Chest and Forearm Strength.
  • Strong Core.
  • Shoulder Strength.
  • The ability to have the chest flat to the floor with the head extended.

The No No’s

There are a lot of misconceptions amongst different trainers. Here are some of the major no no’s you should never experience when attempting a chest stand.

  • Neck compressed on the floor: The neck should not be meeting the floor what so ever.
  • Crunching or pinching in the neck: Is a hard and fast sign to get out of the pose and is an indicator that you are not ready to work on this position yet.
  • Inability to breathe: This is generally because the trachea is meeting the floor beneath you.
  • Holding your breath: You need to be able to breathe freely. This is not a pose where you hold your breath. Practice breathing in and out through the nostrils and practice to breathe in other back bending positions as preperation.
  • Crunching in the back: When you are performing backbends you should never feel any pinching, crunching or compression through the spine. Exit immediately if you experience any of these sensations.
  • Face in the floor: If you face is in the floor you can’t breath, you also cant create that nice tripod between the shoulders and chin.


The chest stand tripod

Coming from puppy pose sweep the hands down in line with the body. Palms are flat on the floor.

Keeping your chest on the floor begin to walk the feet in a little closer towards the body and let the hips lift.

Push your shoulder heads down into the floor with the chin.

The neck should not be in contact with the floor, if so then push into the shoulders and chin into the floor and to try and elevate the neck creating a platform.

It is then and only then once that tripod platform is formed you can begin to raise the rest of the body up and away into your chest stand.

Beginner Chest Stand Entries

For beginners starting out in their chest stand you can use a medicine ball, yoga wheel or the wall.

When you are using a medicine ball or yoga wheel, you want to use the apparatus to elevate the hips so that they are nice and high. The body rolls up and down until you find the right point that allows you to get your chest to the floor.

From here you will assume the tripod position and begin working towards lifting the hips high and off the apparatus.

Intermediate Chest Stand Entry

Rolling into chest stand. This is an intermediate to advanced intermediate move. I have heard this move called supermans and rock and rolls.

Before trying to roll straight into this pose lay on the floor facedown with palms flat on the floor besides you. Begin a rocking motion back and forward using your hands as traction to help you get your chest higher.

Keep working towards the chest moving back and forth. Once you land your chest stand you can continue to practice this motion until you feel confident enough to roll from your knees to your chest.

Anna does a perfect example of this in the above video.

Advanced Chest Stand Entry

Im not even going to try and break this one down it is way over my head! I thought it looked amazing and thought I had to share it with you.

Decompressing The Spine After A Chest Stand

Neturalising the spine and relieving and undue pressure is an important part of your chest stand process. Here are a few methods you can use for your post work out cool down.

Plow Pose

Perform 5 – 8 sets gently rolling out the spine.

Rock and Rolls

Perform 5 – 8 sets gently rolling out the spine.

Thoracic Flexion & Extension

Perform 5 – 8 sets

Forward Fold

Create space through each vertebrae with a forward fold. Hold for 30 – 60 seconds. Option to fold the arms and rock the torso gently from side to side.

My very first chest stand


Not quite there yet? Come and join me for a class to build your strength and flexibility.

Coming soon… The complete guide on how to train for chest stands.

Stay limber,

Vanessa Barthelmes.

Check out my flexibility classes and online coaching.

“Blessed are the flexible for they will not allow themselves to become bent out of shape!” – Robert Ludlum

Related Articles

Remove tension and increase flexibility with these 21 upper body stretches.

4 shoulder stretches for the rotator cuff and capsule.

How to start training for contortion back bends.

7 assisted contortion methods.

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Flexibility, Contortion & Yoga Instructor.



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