Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)


The Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana is a basic Hatha yoga pose, and is very often practiced either on its own, or as part of Sun Salutation.

The pose is a beginning backbend in yoga that helps to prepare the body for deeper backbends. Its name comes from the Sanskrit words, “bhujanga” means “serpent” and “asana” which means “pose”.

Benefits of Cobra Pose

Bhujangasana is best known for its ability to increase the flexibility of the spine. It stretches the chest while strengthening the spine and shoulders. It also helps to open the lungs, which is therapeutic for asthma.

If you are suffering from rounded shoulders or stiff upper back and neck, Cobra Pose can help relieve your upper body stiffness. It also creates more flexibility into the lower back, massages the digestive organs and relieves menstrual pain.

This pose does not only open the physical body, but also provides a gentle opening for the heart as well. It opens up your chest, become a bit more vulnerable, and practice being open in the world.

How to do Cobra Pose

Before trying this pose, it is important to know some cautions. Do not practice Cobra if you have carpal tunnel syndrome or a recent back, waist, or wrist injury. Women who are pregnant should avoid practicing this pose while on the floor, although they may practice it standing with their palms against a wall. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. Remember to always talk with your doctor before practicing yoga if you have any medical concerns.

Ready to try Cobra pose? Follow the instructions below:

  • Begin by lying face-down on the floor with your legs extended behind you, spread a few inches apart. The tops of your feet should rest on the mat but don’t tuck your toes as this can crunch your spine.
  • Place your hands under your shoulders with your fingers pointing toward the top of the mat. Hug your elbows in to the sides of your body..
  • Press down through the tops of your feet and your pubic bone. Spread your toes.
  • Inhale as you gently lift your head and chest off the floor. Keep your lower ribs on the floor.
  • Draw your shoulders back and your heart forward, but do not crunch your neck. Keep your shoulders dropped away from your ears. Note: beginners and those with neck pain should keep their gaze toward the floor. Those with more flexibility can bring their gaze to the sky.
  • Begin to straighten your arms, lifting your chest off the floor. Press the tops of your thighs down firmly into the floor (Low Cobra).
  • Do not push yourself away from the floor (forcing the backbend). Instead, allow the lift to come as a natural extension of your spine. There should be almost no weight on your hands.
  • Only straighten your arms as much as your body allows. Deepen the stretch as your practice advances, but avoid straining to achieve a deeper backbend. If your flexibility permits, you can straighten your arms all the way while maintaining the connection of the front of your pelvis and legs with the floor (High Cobra).
  • Actively press your shoulder blades into your upper back. Keep your elbows hugged in to your sides. Broaden across your collar bones and lift your heart. Glide the tops of your shoulders away from your ears. Distribute the length of the backbend evenly through your entire spine.
  • Hold the pose for up to 30 seconds. To release, exhale as you slowly lower your chest and forehead to the mat. Turn your head to the right, resting your left ear on the mat. Relax your arms alongside your body. Repeat the pose up to five times.