Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose
Bhujangasana, or Cobra Pose, is a beginning backbend that helps to prepare the body for deeper backbends. Its name comes from the Sanskrit words, ‘bhujanga‘ (serpent/cobra) and ‘asana‘ (posture).
Cobra can be practiced as an alternative to Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) in Sun Salutations and Vinyasas (if you’re wondering what ‘a vinyasa’ is, that’s coming in a later post!). A variation on Cobra Pose is Baby Cobra, which involves much of the same action, without as much lift.
Full disclosure, I rarely ever practice Cobra Pose. I don’t know why – I have nothing against it – I just generally either practice Baby Cobra or Upward Facing Dog. As I prepared to write this post, I practiced quite a bit of Cobra Pose, and I must admit, I’ve been missing out. I’ll have to work it into my practice more often.
We’ll start with Baby Cobra:
- Lower yourself all the way onto your belly, bringing your forehead or chin to the mat
- Untuck the toes so the tops of the feet press down onto your mat; feet no wider than hip-width distance
- Bring the hands underneath the shoulders and elbows close to the body, hugging them towards the ribs
- Press the tops of the feet, the thighs, and pubic bone firmly into the ground
- Inhale, pull your shoulder blades towards each other and down your back as you lift the head and chest off of the floor
- Keep the neck in line with the spine (don’t try to look up; look slightly forward)
- The ribs and pelvis will stay on the mat
This is Baby Cobra. To come into Cobra, continue:
- Press into your hands as you continue to pull the elbows back to create more lift in the chest
- The ribs will lift off the mat; the pelvis will stay down
- Keep pulling the shoulder blades back towards each other and down your back
- Imagine trying to pull back on your mat with your hands, like you’re trying to pull the chest forward through the space of your arms
- Keep the legs engaged, pressing the tops of the feet firmly into the mat
- Feel the backbend through the entire spine
- Do not to force yourself into the pose – lift yourself into it by using the strength of your back muscles and by pressing down through your thighs and feet
Keep a generous bend in the elbows
Walk the hands further forward
- Increases flexibility of the spine
- Strengthens the spine, legs, upper back, arms, and shoulders
- Stretches the front of the body
- Firms the buttocks, shoulders, and abdomen
- Stimulates the abdominal organs, improving digestion
- Helps ease sciatica pain
- Prepares you for deeper backbends
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