Sign up and get a FREE meditation audio
* indicates required

Categories

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)


cobra pose

In the previous posts, we talked about the seated forward-bending poses. With this issue, we will start discussing some of the backward bending poses which are done lying down on the abdomen. We will begin this discussion with Bhujangasana -भुजङ्गासन -(Cobra pose).

The word “bhujanga” in Sanskrit means a cobra or a snake/serpent. In its final position, the pose looks like a cobra with its hood raised and hence the name. In many traditions, the serpent represents the tremendous power latent within the individual. In tantra, it represents the “kundalini shakti” which lies dormant at the base of the spine in the form of a serpent coiled three and a half times. In Hindu mythology it is respected and honored as a sacred animal, symbolizing the individual subtle force, intuition and wisdom. The double looped mathematical symbol for infinity is derived from the ancient symbol of the snake with its tail in its mouth, and is an expression of the continuity and eternity of life. By the practice of bhujangasana, we can realize and express not only all of the specific qualities of the serpent, but also its divine essence.

Step-by-step

I recommend that you practice at least three rounds of this pose. In each round we try to engage different parts of the spine. In round one, more emphasis is placed on the upper part of the spine. In rounds two and three, more of the middle and lower spine are engaged.

Round one:

  1. Lie down on your abdomen with the legs stretched back straight, feet together with the toes pointing away. Bring the palms underneath the shoulders, alongside the body, palms facing down, lining up the tips of the fingers with the tops of the shoulders. Keep the elbows bent and tucked in close to the body.
  2. While inhaling stretch your head forward and slowly begin to lift your head, neck and chest off the floor. Keep looking upward. Imagine the movement of a snake rising upwards as you do this.
  3. Keep minimum pressure on the floor with the palms. In fact, it is a good idea to lift the hands off the floor slightly and allow the abdominal muscles and the upper spine to do the work of lifting the chest higher with every inhalation. Stay in the final position for 4 to 5 breaths. (See Fig. 1)
  4. To come out of the pose, while exhaling, slowly lower the chest, neck and forehead down to the floor, bring the arms back alongside the body and relax.

Round two:


cobra pose

  1. Repeat step 1 as described above.
  2. Repeat step 2 as described above.
  3. Keeping the palms on the floor, apply gentle pressure with the palms on the floor and try to lift the chest a bit higher, keeping the navel on the ground. Stay in the final position for 4 to 5 breaths. (See Fig. 2)
  4. Repeat step 4 as above.

Round three:

urdhvamukhashvana.jpg

Upward Dog

  1. Repeat step 1 as described above.
  2. Repeat step 2 as described above.
  3. Keeping the palms on the floor, apply a little more pressure with the palms on the floor. Straighten the elbows a little and try to lift the chest a bit higher, keeping the abdomen on the ground. If you lift the abdomen off the floor, then you are not in the Cobra pose any more but are approaching the Upward Facing Dog pose. Make sure the elbows are not hyper-extended. Stay in the final position for 4 to 5 breaths. (See Fig. 3)
  4. Repeat step 4 as above.

Contraindications/Cautions

Throughout the pose, maintain awareness on the spine and the breath. If at any time you feel discomfort in the spine, wrists or shoulders, you should back off and come out of the pose. Avoid practicing Bhujangasana if you suffer from peptic ulcers, hernia, intestinal problems, recent or chronic back injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, headache or hyperthyroidism. It is not advisable for pregnant women, except for experienced yoga practitioners who can continue to practice it gently during the first trimester.

Benefits

  • Builds strength in the muscles of the upper back, shoulders and increases flexibility in the lower back
  • Massages the internal organs, especially the digestive organs, affects the adrenal glands, sending them a richer supply of blood
  • Relieves constipation
  • Helps relieve menstrual problems
  • Stimulates and helps balance the swadhisthana (2nd) and manipura (3rd) chakras
  • Improves concentration

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>