How to Do Little Thunderbolt Pose (Laghu Vajrasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

How to Do Little Thunderbolt Pose - Laghu Vajrasana
Little Thunderbolt Pose - Laghu Vajrasana. Ann Pizer

Targets: Chest, abdomen, quadriceps

Equipment Needed: Mat

Level: Advanced

Little Thunderbolt (Laghu Vajrasana) is included in Ashtanga yoga's second series. The Ashtanga version is done with your hands on your ankles. The variation shown here deepens the intensity of the backbend by bringing the crown of your head to your feet and the hands to your thighs. The Ashtanga version is actually pretty accessible if you are comfortable in Camel Pose (Ustrasana). Lowering backward and lifting up with control really works the thighs. You can use this pose in sequences that are focused on the back, heart openers, and core. To warm up for this pose, it is best to do Sun Salutations and poses that open the hips and chest.


This pose increases spinal mobility; opens the throat, chest, psoas, and quadriceps; strengthens the abdominals and spinal support muscles. Practicing this pose will help strengthen your legs as needed for deeper backbends. It opens the third eye chakra, throat chakra, and heart chakra.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin in a kneeling position with your thighs perpendicular to the floor.

  1. Lift your chest to lengthen your spine as you move back to Camel Pose.
  2. Bring your hands to grasp your ankles.
  3. Drop your head back. 
  4. With control that comes from grounding through the legs, drop your head back and slowly lower the crown to the ground, coming into a backbend.
  5. Keep your arms straight and hold on to your ankles the whole time.
  6. To come out, engage the core and draw yourself back up to kneeling.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to do this pose correctly.

Attempting Before Ready

This is an intense pose and should only be attempted by students with a strong back-bending practice. You should be coached by a yoga instructor when first practicing this pose.

Crunching Lower Back

Make sure to keep chest moving up and the glutes soft to lengthen the spine and avoid crunching the lower back.

Modifications and Variations

This pose will take practice. Once you can do it with good form, there are ways to deepen it.

Need a Modification?

Camel Pose is a more moderate version and good preparatory pose.

If you have difficulty lowering yourself all of the way or coming back up, lower yourself only halfway and hold before coming up. Another modification is to place a block under your head.

Up for a Challenge?

If you have a bendier back, try this variation:

  • Instead of holding your ankles, keep your hands on your thighs as you drop back.
  • When your head comes to the ground, slide your hands down your thighs toward your knee.

This is a tighter version of the pose. Keeping your hands on your thighs means that your head may come to rest between your feet.

Safety and Precautions

Do not perform this advanced pose if you have not perfected your Camel Pose. Avoid it if you have injuries to your neck, back, or knees.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.