How to Do Scorpion Pose (Vrischikasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Woman on yoga mat doing scorpion pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Targets: Flexibility, upper body and core strength, balance

Level: Advanced

Scorpion Pose (Vrischikasana) is an advanced pose that you may begin to explore once you have developed sufficient core strength and shoulder mobility through a consistent yoga practice. This inversion facilitates a tremendous backbend and mimics the position of a scorpion ready to strike. Some have labeled Scorpion as one of the hardest yoga poses. It can take extra preparation and skill to build the muscle, flexibility, and skill to practice this pose safely and effectively. It is often considered a "peak pose" that culminates with a physical asana practice.

Benefits

Scorpion Pose will strengthen your shoulders, arms, core, and back. It improves the flexibility of your spine and stretches your hip flexors and chest muscles. You'll rely on the balance and stability you've developed from your experience as a yoga practitioner. As a challenging inversion, it is highly energizing both physically and mentally. However, contrary to widespread belief a recent study debunked the theory that inversions increase blood flow the brain, despite that the head is below the heart.

If you can consistently balance in a forearm stand (Pincha Mayurasasa) either in the middle of the room or at the wall and regularly incorporate backbends into your asana practice, then you may begin exploring Scorpion Pose.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Come to a forearm stand on your mat.
  2. Start to draw your spine into a large curve as you bend your knees and look forward slightly to lift your head without compressing the back of your neck (cervical spine). 
  3. In forearm stand, your hips are pretty much over your shoulders. For your body to move into the classic C-shape of Scorpion, your hips and pelvis will begin to drop forward to hover over the top of your head. This is facilitated as you begin to curve your spine into extension.
  4. Draw your two big toes toward each other to touch as your knees remain separate and wide. Be mindful of collapsing into a backbend and compressing your lumbar, ensuring you are emphasizing strength and stability over flexibility.
  5. With enough practice, you may eventually draw your toes toward the crown of your head.
  6. To come out, neutralize your spine by straightening through your legs, passing through a forearm stand before you lower one leg down at a time to the floor.
  7. Resting for a few moments in Child's Pose can help counter the intensity of this backbend, drawing your spine into flexion.

Common Mistakes

To get the most of this advanced pose and prevent injury, avoid these errors.

Lack of Preparation

You will want to make sure you're strong enough to perform other inversions like Headstand (Sirsasana), Handstand Pose (Vrksasana), and Forearm Stand before you attempt Scorpion Pose. Dolphin Pose push-ups are a good exercise to build your shoulder and core strength. Perform sets of 10. You will also need to develop flexibility in your spine, which for some, can take years of practice. Camel Pose will help develop back flexibility, with the spine curved much in the same way as Scorpion Pose, just not inverted.

Working Beyond Your Limits

Even experienced practitioners should be careful with this backbend. Be sure you are under the supervision of a certified yoga teacher when you are attempting this pose for the first time.

Modifications and Variations

Beginners to yoga should not attempt this advanced posture. Your yoga teacher can help you understand your limits are and whether it is safe to progress.

Need a Modification?

If you are comfortable doing Forearm Stand at the wall, you can start to work on Scorpion at the wall.

  1. Before you kick up, move your hands about a foot from the wall.
  2. Come into Forearms Stand with your feet on the wall. Because your hands are further from the wall, placing your feet on the wall will create a backbend position in your spine.
  3. Bend your knees and begin walking your feet down the wall toward your head to draw your spine into extension. Acknowledge when it's time to stop—you should feel strong and stable and not be experiencing any pain.

Up for a Challenge?

If you're able to touch your head with your toes in Scorpion Pose, try placing the soles of your feet on the crown of your head. This will require a very deep backbend, so you would benefit from working on poses like Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana) beforehand to help prepare you.

Safety and Precautions

Only experienced and well-prepared practitioners should attempt this pose, and should use caution when doing so. Do not attempt this pose if you have hip or back problems, high blood pressure, or are pregnant. It is not recommended to practice any inversion if you have glaucoma. Listen to your body. If you sense any physical discomfort or sensation that feels unproductive, gently come out of the pose. A yoga practice should never be painful.

Try It Out

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

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Article Sources
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  1. Yoga Journal. Kathryn Budig Challenge Pose: Scorpion in Forearm Balance. April 12, 2017.

  2. Minvaleev RS, Bogdanov RR, Bahner DP, Levitov AB. Headstand (Sirshasana) Does Not Increase the Blood Flow to the Brain. J Altern Complement Med. 2019;25(8):827-832. doi:10.1089/acm.2019.0060

  3. Broad W. The New York Times. How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body. January 5, 2012.

  4. Cramer H, Krucoff C, Dobos G. Adverse events associated with yoga: a systematic review of published case reports and case series. PLoS ONE. 2013;8(10):e75515. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075515