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Cobra pose

The cobra pose is also called Bhujangasana. This combines two Sanskrit words: Bhujang ("serpent") and asana ("pose"). Like many other yoga poses, it’s named for the animal the pose resembles. In this case, the cobra pose resembles the look of a slowly rising serpent.

The cobra pose is one of 12 moves within the sun salutation sequence, which helps stretch and strengthen the body. The co

bra pose helps you open your chest, strengthen your back, and stretch your abdominal muscles. 

How to Do Cobra Pose

Follow the steps below when doing a cobra pose. You can slightly adjust the movement to fit your level of flexibility and fitness.

  1. Begin by lying on your abdomen on the floor, with your forehead and the tops of your feet resting on the ground or yoga mat.

  2. Try to keep your feet close enough together for your heels to touch, but no further than hip-width apart. 

  3. Place your palms flat on the ground either underneath or to the sides of your shoulders, whatever is more comfortable. Fingers should be pointing forward.

  4. Keep your elbows close to your sides.

  5. Breathe in and gently push up, straightening your elbows as you lift your upper body off the ground. Keep your belly button and pelvis pressed to the floor.

  6. Draw your shoulder blades back and drop your shoulders away from your ears, keeping your shoulders relaxed. This will open up the chest muscles.

  7. Keep your neck straight or turn your head toward the sky, depending on your preference and level of flexibility.

  8. Continue straightening your elbows, pushing your chest higher off the ground. Keep your pelvic bone and thighs pressed into the ground.

  9. Focus on lifting your chest toward the sky.

  10. Breathe out to release the move as you lower your body back to the ground.

Cobra Pose Benefits

Cobra pose offers many health benefits. Aside from opening the chest and strengthening the back, cobra pose also:

  • Opens the shoulder blades, neck, and collar bones 

  • Improves spinal posture, flexibility, and alignment

  • Reduces back pain

  • Improves circulation

  • Opens the lungs

  • Stimulates the abdominal and digestive organs, improving digestion

  • Massages and regulates the adrenal and thyroid glands

  • Reduces stress

  • May improve sleep quality, fatigue, and symptoms of mild depression

Beginner tips

If you feel any discomfort or compression in the lower back, don’t come up as high in the pose. Focus instead on creating strength in the upper back, between the shoulder blades. You can also take your feet wider than hip-distance apart.

If you have the flexibility in your armpits, chest, and groins, you can move into a deeper backbend: Walk your hands a little farther forward and straighten your elbows, turning your arms outward. Lift the top of your sternum toward the ceiling.

Teacher tips

These cues will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:

  • If you feel compression in your low back, try Sphinx Pose: Rest the forearms on the floor with the elbows under the shoulders. To create space in the chest, press the elbows down, reach the heart up, and draw the shoulder blades away from the ears.

  • Squeezing your buttocks can compress your lower back, so keep them relaxed. Roll your inner thighs up to lengthen your tailbone back.

  • To make more space for your spine to arch, place your hands a few inches farther forward.

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