Sanskrit Name: Bhujangasana
Pose Level: Beginner
Cobra pose is a beginner backbend that increases the flexibility of the spine. It opens the chest and shoulders, stretches the torso and stimulates the digestive organs for better digestion. It is also great for strengthening the legs, buttocks and back, great for easing sciatica pain.
Its Sanskrit name is Bhujangasana, which is derived from the words bhujanga (meaning “serpent”) and asana (meaning “pose”)
Cobra Pose Step-by-Step
Here are step by step instructions for cobra pose:
- Lie face-down on the mat, flattening the tops of your feet with the toes pointing back. Place your hands under your shoulders, hugging your elbows close to the body.
- Engage your legs, pull your belly in and up.
- Take an inhale, begin to lift your chest off the floor. Roll your shoulder blades into the upper back. Go only to the height that you can maintain.
- Let your arms be bent, with no weight on the hands yet. Most of the effort should be from the back and legs rather than on the arms. This bent-arm version is called Baby Cobra.
- Exhale and lower your chest and head back to the starting position. Repeat Baby Cobra two more times.
- When you are ready to do the full Cobra pose, take an inhale and lift your chest using your back muscles, begin to straighten the arm and come all the way up to a height where you are able to maintain a connection from the pelvis to the legs.
- Avoid pushing the front ribs out, try to draw your shoulder blades back and lengthen your neck.
- Ensure that you are not dumping your weight into the lower back, but distribute the backbend evenly across the entire spine.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths.
- Exhale and lower the body down, rest on your belly or take Child’s Pose.
Here are some tips to help with Cobra Pose:
- Try to master Baby Cobra before trying the full expression of Cobra pose. Baby Cobra helps to tone the upper back and strengthens your back and legs so that you can enter Cobra pose without excessive reliance on your arms or lower back.
- Go only as far as you feel comfortable. Make sure that your lower back is long and your abdominal muscles are engaged.
- Keep your hips on the floor.
- Relax your shoulders and keep your neck relaxed and soft.
- Point your elbows back rather than out to the sides.
Baby Cobra Pose Modification
Baby Cobra is the bend-arm version of Cobra Pose. Follow 1-4 in the step-by-step instructions above to achieve this. Try to master Baby Cobra before you move on to the full pose.
For people with lower back pain, try to stay with Baby Cobra and keep the lift low. If you have wrist pain, try to bring your hands further in front of you. You can also drop onto your forearms in Sphinx pose.
If you want a stronger backbend, walk your hands back closer to your torso when you come into full cobra (with straight arms).
- Those with back injuries, headaches, carpel tunnel syndrome or are pregnant should avoid this pose
Cobra Pose vs Upward Facing Dog: What’s the Difference?
Both Cobra Post and Upward Facing Dog look quite similar to begin, but they are not quite identical. So, what’s the difference?
The main difference between Cobra Pose and Upward Facing Dog is that your knees, thighs, and pelvis remain on the mat during Cobra Pose but you lift these off the floor in Downward Facing Dog which is a more advanced pose.
Cobra Pose and the Baby Cobra modification are better for beginners and a good way to prepare your body strength for moving on to Upward Facing Dog.
Upward Facing Dog put more pressure on your back because you are lifting your whole body off the floor, it’s also harder to modify as you have to use yoga blocks under your hands to lift them away from the mat.
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The YogaMad is founded by Candy, an avid yogini who is passionate about inspiring others to live their best lives while finding mind-body-soul balance. She has a background in business consulting but has left the corporate world in her quest to live out her dreams as a yoga nomad.