Cactus Pose: Steps, Benefits, and Contraindications

Cactus Pose or Cactus Arms - Sharp Muscle
4 min read
Updated: February 14, 2023

Cactus Pose is an easy way to strengthen your arms, shoulders, back, spine and reduce the likelihood of a strong backache.

You can do this yoga pose at your desk while you are sitting or using Tadasana (two leg standing), Vriksasana (single leg standing) balance or horse pose (squat).

Try Cactus pose every day for a 60 or 120 seconds – it should help strengthen the spine and reduce the likelihood of a strong backache. Also – try meditation version to settle the mind.


Known as:Cactus Pose, Cactus Arms
Sanskrit name:कैक्टस आसन
IAST:káktos āsana
Type:Standing, back-bend, heart opener
Focus:Arms, shoulders, chest, upper back, spine
Total time:30 to 60 seconds
Chakra:Swadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra, Anahata Chakra
Indications:Arms, shoulders, elbows, upper arms, chest, diaphragm, breath, awareness , focus, alignment , posture, energizing, de-stressing, relaxing
Counterpose:Mountain Pose (Tadasana), Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Preparatory poses:Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
Follow-up poses:Temple pose, Side lunge pose, Firefly Pose (Titibasana)
Contraindications:Insomnia, headache, low blood pressure, shoulders injuries

Benefits of Cactus Pose

Practicing Cactus Arms is a beginner-level yoga pose that can be taught to anyone.

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The most important aspect of this yoga pose is the nature of the exercise, as it is an isometric action of the muscles of the upper arms and shoulders, which is involved.

Some physical and mental benefits to be gained from this practice are given below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Strengthens the shoulders and base of the arms
    • Stretches and lengthens the spine, shoulders, chest, and arms
    • Opens the arms, heart, chest, rib cage, and upper back
    • Improve the range of motion and flexibility of the shoulders, elbows, upper arms, feet, knees, thighs, chest, neck, and spine
    • Improves the posture
    • Help relieve from the discomfort of chemo
    • Heats the body and increases the circulation
    • Helps in curing sciatica
    • Reduces the problem of flat feet
    • Lower the blood pressure
  2. Mental Benefits:

Step-by-step instructions to Cactus Pose

  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time, draw your navel into the spine to activate the core.
  • Cross the wrists in front of you, while inhaling raise the arms upwards.
  • While exhaling, bent your elbows at 90 degrees, chin parallel to the floor and spread the fingers wide. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and feel your chest broaden.
  • Inhaling, raise the arms up.
  • While exhaling, bring your arms back to the starting position.
  • Stay in the pose for 30 to 60 seconds, squeezing your shoulder blades together and pressing your navel slightly more toward your spine. Keep the breath flowing smoothly for 5 or more breaths.
  • If the wrist feels fine, move the fingers backward and feel the effect on the upper arms.
  • Stand on one leg in Tree Pose (Vriksasana) and test your balance by moving your arm.
  • Imagine the sun raining down on you in a scorching desert.
  • To come out of this pose, bring your arms down and then hug yourself to relax your shoulders.
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  • Remember the alignment of the cactus pose; Pay attention to which muscles are engaged and which are being stretched.
  • Then, slowly drop your arms to your sides, but stop. If you start to lose the healthy shoulder position, your arms may not come down completely.
  • Check again that your stomach, ribs, and head are not facing forward.
  • At first, it will feel like you are inflating your chest, but over time it will feel more comfortable and familiar.
  • Practice holding this alignment in other yoga postures, such as Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II), Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Tough because hands are up!, or while brushing your teeth.

Precautions and contraindications

Cactus Arms or Cactus Pose are very beneficial for the body, but still, you need to take some basic precautions and contraindications to keep in mind in the practice of this yoga pose. Which are explained below:

  • People suffering from insomnia should not do this yoga pose.
  • If you are having headache, then do not practice this yoga pose.
  • Noting that the practice of cactus pose requires strength in the hip, knee, and ankle joints. Therefore, individuals with associated symptoms:
    • general weakness of the body,
    • weak or brittle bones,
    • weak musculature or joints,
    • severe gout,
    • weakness, or strain, in any part of the body due to recovery from an old injury or illness
    • fibromyalgia, migraine, vertigo,
    • Other physical conditions that can cause trouble with the body or breathing
  • Additionally, individuals with acute neck or shoulder pain should practice gradually or may choose a different arm position.
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As, the practice of cactus pose can lower your blood pressure and generate heat in the body. Therefore, individuals with a history of hemorrhage should avoid the practice of this pose, or it is better to hold it against a wall and for a short period of time.

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