Yoga Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra Pose

Bhujangasana (boo-jahn-GAHS-uh-nuh) — is an energizing backbend and essential element of the sequence of yoga postures performed in Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar) and Padma Sadhana. It gets its name from the Sanskrit words, Bhujang, meaning ‘serpent,’ and asana, meaning ‘pose.’

Cobra Pose is best known for its ability to increase flexibility of the spine while opening the chest. According to traditional yogic texts, this pose heals the body of disease and awakens Kundalini, the divine cosmic energy that fosters self-realization.

Level of Difficulty: Beginner

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Lie on your stomach with the top of your feet and chin resting on the floor. Keep your legs close together with your feet and heels lightly touching.
  • Place your palms face down underneath your shoulders with your fingers pointing to the top of your mat. Keep your elbows parallel and hugged into your sides.
  • Breathing in, gently lift your head, chest, and abdomen, while keeping your lower ribs, pelvis and navel pressed down on the mat.
  • Draw your shoulders back and down away from your ears, opening your chest forward. Your gaze can be forward or to the sky, depending on the flexibility of your neck.
  • PStraightening your arms, slowly lift your chest off the floor while pressing down on the mat through your thighs. Make sure there is not too much weight in your palms. You can check by seeing if you can lift your your hands off the mat to hover, while focusing on engaging your back muscles.
  • Only straighten your arms to a point where you feel a comfortable and natural. Hold the posture for up to 30 seconds.
  • Breathing out to release, gently bring your abdomen, chest, and head back down to the floor.

Benefits

  • Opens the shoulders and neck while expanding the chest and broadening the collar bones
  • Stimulates and tones the abdominal muscles and organs, improving digestion and alleviating constipation.
  • Strengthens the back and shoulders, improving posture
  • Improves flexibility of the upper and middle back
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Reduces fatigue and stress
  • Opens the lungs, which has a therapeutic effect on those suffering from asthma and other respiratory disorders.

Precautions

Avoid practicing Cobra if you suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, hernias, abdominal pain, or have a recent back, wrist, or rib injury. Women who are pregnant should also avoid practicing this pose.

Modifications and Variations

If you have less flexibility in the spine and shoulders or if you are pregnant, practice Cobra standing up with palms against a wall and elbows hugging your sides. As you press yourself against the wall, gently draw your shoulder blades up and back to broaden your collar bones and open your chest.

If you have more strength in the spine and shoulders, gently lift your palms off the floor while continuing to lift your chest. This variation will help the back muscles stay engaged.

While a regular yoga practice can result in improved health, know that it is not a substitute for medical treatment. It is important to learn and practice yoga under the supervision of a trained teacher. In the case of a medical condition, practice yoga after consulting a doctor. Do you need information on courses? Contact us at programs@us.artofliving.org to find a a Sri Sri Yoga course at an Art of Living Center near you.

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