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.
You can come into Cobra from our previous pose, Chaturanga Dandasana, or from Knees, Chest, Chin, or Plank Pose.
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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