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Yoga Poses: Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Resources, Yoga

Yoga Poses: Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

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Cobra pose (Bhujangasana) a.k.a. Serpent or Snake pose is one of the most basic back bending poses and is performed twice in Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation sequence) as a counter pose of Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). It is considered a very good pose for students as it enhances concentration.

It is an energizing as well as strengthening pose, best known for its ability to increase flexibility of spine. Though some traditional texts do lay stress on its importance in awakening of Kundalini, the cosmic energy stored at the base of one’s spine.

Health Benefits


While you bend in this pose, you stretch the abdomen, neck and arms, while toning buttocks, shoulders and back of thighs. It opens up chest to strengthen lungs and increase the uptake of oxygen, and is thus considered good in treating asthma. Additionally, cobra pose promotes good digestion, relieves from stress and fatigue and helps ease pain of sciatica.

Getting into pose

What you need: Room with fresh air (if you’re doing it inside, otherwise do it in open area), and you.

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Initial Position: Prone (lying on stomach, legs together, arms on sides, palms facing up and face bent on one side)

Drishti or Gaze: While performing this pose, concentrate your gaze upwards

Steps:

  1. Get into the initial position. Twist your wrists and place palms just beneath the shoulders. Elbows pointing upwards.
  2. Push the floor below while raising your torso above. Inhale deep. Aim to straighten your elbows. Your toes should not curl inside and your soles must face the ceiling.
  3. Hold breath at the maximum possible arch of spine for 15-30 seconds. Do not exert yourself. Bend only till a mild tension in your back. Stretch your neck up and concentrate your gaze towards the ceiling.
  4. Gently exhale as you revert to the starting position. Do it slowly, and not with a jerk. Otherwise, it can leave you with mild dizziness. Do it twice in a practice along with other poses.

If you feel exerted, rest in Corpse pose or the initial prone position.

Other variations

  • Chair Yoga: If you feel very stiff and find it difficult to even lift up your head while doing the above pose, you can go for its chair variation to prime yourself first. Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair with feet resting comfortably on ground, hip width apart. Keep the chair 5-10 inches away from a wall. Raise your arms above and try bending backwards to touch the wall behind. Once you are able to achieve that without going out of breath, try its proper version described above.

Preparatory poses

Beginner’s tip

Try the chair yoga pose variation. If you are performing it the traditional way, then use some soft towel for cushioning the palms.

Advanced poses

  • Locust Pose (Shalabhasana)
  • Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)

Important Notes

  • Those with back problems, recent surgery or carpel tunnel syndrome should not perform it.
  • Also, pregnant women should avoid it completely.

Further reading

1. Pranayama – Beginner’s Guide

2. [Infographic] Why Organizations Should Invest In Yoga For Employees

Last Updated: April 28, 2014
Next Scheduled Update: June 28, 2014

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