Cobra Pose - Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana 
(Cobra Pose)

(boo-jang-GAHS-anna) 
bhujanga = serpent, snake

This yoga posture promotes flexibility in the spine and encourages the chest to open. It is a good yoga exercise to train the shoulder blades on proper positioning in relation to the spine. Return to a resting position, such as Child's Pose, after practice of this asana is recommended. This yoga posture promotes flexibility in the spine and encourages the chest to open. It is a good yoga exercise to train the shoulder blades on proper positioning in relation to the spine. Return to a resting position, such as Child's Pose, after practice of this asana is recommended.


 

Benefits


Strengthens the spine 

Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen 

Firms the buttocks 

Stimulates abdominal organs 

Helps relieve stress and fatigue 

Opens the heart and lungs 

Soothes sciatica 

Therapeutic for asthma 

Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini. 

This posture increases the gastric fire; it destroys all diseases and by constant practice leads to the awakening of Kundalini.

The Cobra benefits the spine and lower back. 

The standard variation strengthens the wrists and stretches the muscles in the chest. 

By maintaining a constant exertion to create a greater arch in the spine, the stomach and pelvic muscles are strengthened. Greater strength in these areas can be cultivated by performing the variation where the arms remain on the ground. B.K.S. Iyengar claims that displaced spinal discs can be placed back in their original position.

Contraindications/Cautions


Back injury 

Carpal tunnel syndrome 

Headache 

Pregnancy 

Performing the Asana


Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back into your body. 

Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor. 

On an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don't harden the buttocks. 

Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine. 

Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation. 

Modify Your Practice


If you are very stiff it might be better to avoid doing this pose on the floor. Brace a metal folding chair against a wall, and do the pose with your hands on the front edge of the seat, balls of the feet on the floor. 

One variation uses greater strength of the spine and is performed by resting the palms down at the sides and lifting into the cobra by using the assisting muscles of the spine.

You may also bend the knees at the peak of the pose, extending your head backwards to meet the toes.

Another alteration is to simply walk the palms towards the pelvis as you lift into the posture.

Complimentary Yoga Poses


Setu Bandha Sarvangasana - Bridge Asana 
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana - Upwards Facing Dog Pose 

Tips for Beginners


Don't overdo the backbend. To find the height at which you can work comfortably and avoid straining your back, take your hands off the floor for a moment, so that the height you find will be through extension.

Deepen the Pose


If you have the flexibility in the armpits, chest, and groins you can move into a deeper backbend. Walk the hands a little farther forward and straighten your elbows, turning the arms outward. Lift the top of the sternum straight toward the ceiling. 

Partner Practice


Your partner can help you learn about the correct action of the pelvis in a backbend. Once in the pose, have your partner straddle your legs. He/she should bend over and grip the sides of your pelvis, thumbs toward the sacrum, then spread the back of your pelvis, encourage your outer hips to soften, and push your hip points toward each other.