Bhujangasana | Cobra Pose

(boo-jang-GAHS-anna)
bhujanga = serpent, snake
This posture promotes flexibility in the spine and encourages the chest to open.

Cobra Pose 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
• Balances the 2nd chakra
• Balances the hormones
• Relieves menstrual cramping
• Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini.

Contraindications/Cautions

• Back injury or inflammation (recent or chronic)
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Headache
• Pregnancy after 3rd month
• Recent abdominal surgery or inflammation

Step by Step

1. 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. Keep the elbows in close to the sides of the body, arms bent.

2. Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor. Draw the shoulder blades down the back, bringing the shoulders away from the ears. Engage the abdominal muscles.

3. On an inhalation (or exhalation), 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 the pubis to the floor. Unless the student has great flexibility in the low back, most students will maintain a bent arm position. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Firm but don’t harden the buttocks.

4. Firm the shoulder blades against the back, expanding the side ribs. Lift through the top of the sternum. Keep the abdominal muscles engaged to support the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.

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

Beginner’s Tip:
• Don’t overdo the backbend. To find the height at which you can work comfortably and avoid straining the back, take your hands off the floor for a moment, so that the height you find will be through extension.
• A beginner variation is to have the forearms on the ground to start. Lift up from here into a Sphinx like posture maintaining the forearms on the ground.

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.

Teacher’s Tip: You can help a student learn about the correct action of the pelvis in a backbend by straddling the student’s legs once they are in the pose. Bend over and grip the sides of the pelvis, thumbs toward the sacrum, and spread the back of the pelvis, encouraging the outer hips to soften, pushing the front hip points toward each other.

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