Bhujanga = a snake or serpent, or bhuj = to bend or move in curves; asana = pose
Cobra pose strengthens the back of the body, especially the shoulders, arms, and back. It stretches the chest and abdomen. Like most backbends, it’s a great antidote to the effects of modern life—reversing the effects of being hunched over the computer/ cell phone or slouched on the couch.
How to Practice:
- Lie on your belly with your legs extended back, hip width apart. Bring chin or forehead onto the floor to elongate neck. Slide your hands under your shoulders, and draw your elbows back and in toward your ribs.
- Press the front of the pelvis into the floor and elongate through your toes and the crown of your head. Stretch your tailbone toward your heels to lengthen the lower back. Without pressing into your hands, lift your upper torso off the mat.
- Press upward through the crown with the neck as an extension of the spine. Roll your shoulders back and down. Continue to press elbows toward your torso. Without pressing into your hands, arch your spine as much as it’s comfortable.
- Press the pelvic triangle into the floor. Press the palms gently into the ground to lift the torso higher with no compression in the low back. Draw your elbows back and press your sternum forward.
- Elongate the neck and reach the crown forward and up.
- To release, extend your torso forward and down onto the floor. Relax your shoulders and back.
- Lift and lower with your breath, avoiding the hold.
- Sphinx Pose. (See photo below.) Sphinx is a variation of Cobra that uses the support of the elbows and lower placement of the body to isolate the elongation and stretch in the upper chest and spine. Forearms on the ground with palms down and elbows under shoulders. Drishti straight ahead.
- Bring big toes to touch.
- Place a blanket under the pelvis.
- Place a block between the thighs.
Check with your health care provider before beginning any physical practice. If you have high blood pressure, or back, neck or abdominal pain, try Sphinx Pose first. If you have weak back muscles, move in and out of the posture with breath, and lift with the back rather than the arms to strengthen. Avoid this pose after the first trimester of pregnancy.
As always, if a posture causes pain, come out of it immediately. Ask a qualified yoga teacher for assistance.