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How To Practice Bhujangasana

How To Practice Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana (cobra pose) is a beginner level backbend and prone posture (lying on the stomach posture) that works on the back, abdomen and pelvic region, along with the arms, shoulders and chest. It is also the seventh asana in the Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) sequence. One in the posture the upper torso (chest, shoulders and upper abdomen) and neck are lifted upwards. This position resembles a cobra and hence the name cobra (bhujang in Sanskrit means cobra). 

On a subtle level, Bhujangasana is said to work on the throat chakra, heart chakra, solar plexus, sacral chakra and root chakra, making its impact extremely profound. Further on this article we will talk about bhujangasana procedure, benefits and contraindications so get a better understanding of practicing this posture.

Position type: Lying down on stomach (prone) 

Posture Type: Backbend

Targets: Abdomen, back, shoulders, lungs & thorax 

Ideal for: Spine Flexibility 

Pose level: Beginner


What are the benefits of cobra pose? 

The cobra pose is a backbend and chest opener. It improves and deepens breathing. It has an immense impact on the back, stretching and strengthening the back muscles and nerves. It relieves back pain and stiffness, keeping the spine supple and healthy. It is beneficial for women as it tones the ovaries, uterus and helps manage menstrual and gynaecological disorders like PCOS, irregular periods, etc. It massages the abdomen and abdominal muscles and improves digestion. The posture also stimulates the appetite, alleviates constipation

How to prepare for the Cobra pose

Lower back strength and flexibility

Cobra pose is a beginner level posture that it often used as a preparatory posture for stronger backbends. However, practicing backbends like the locust pose, camel pose and forward bends like seated forward bend and standing forward fold will help in improving strength and flexibility.

Camel Pose

Core strength

Developing strength is important when it comes to holding the posture for longer and engaging the core. Practice postures like the triangle pose, the warrior series, boat pose and plank regularly to improve strength. 

Triangle Pose

How to do the Cobra pose 

Getting into the posture

  1. Lie flat on the stomach with the legs straight, feet together and the soles of the feet facing upwards. 
  2. Place the palms of the hands flat on the floor, below and slightly to the side of the shoulders, with the fingers together and pointing forward.
  3. Position the arms so that the elbows point backward and are close to the sides of the body.
  4. Rest the forehead on the floor and close the eyes.
  5. Relax the whole body, especially the lower back. Now slowly raise the head.
  6. Straighten the elbows, using the back muscles first, then the arm muscles to raise the trunk further and arch the back.
  7. In the final position, the pubic bone remains in contact with the floor and the navel is raised a maximum of 3 mm. 
  8. The arms may or may not be straight; this will depend on the flexibility of the back.

Getting out of the posture

  1. Slowly release the upper back by bending the arms.
  2.  Lower the navel, chest, shoulders and finally the forehead to the floor.
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Key alignments in Cobra pose

  1. Ensure the palms are below the shoulders and just slightly to the side. 
  2. Do not raise the navel too high. The bend should be from the back and not the knees. 
  3. Do not let the elbows fall outward. They should remain close to the body. 

What are the contraindications of Cobra pose? 

The contraindications of bhujangasana is that it is not advised for people suffering from peptic ulcer, hernia, intestinal tuberculosis or hyperthyroidism. If you have back pain, be very careful and practice with only a slight bend until the pain is alleviated. 

What are the counter poses for Cobra pose?

Practice Child’s pose (Shashankasana) for a few breaths. You can also lie down in the Crocodile pose (Makarasana) and relax here for a few deep breaths.  

Childs Pose

Variations of Cobra pose

Easy Variation

  1. If you are a beginner, keep the elbows next to the body and lift up the chest.
  2. You can also keep the elbows bent, instead of keeping the arms straight. 
  3. You can twist upper body to the back until you see the opposite heel.

Advanced Variation

  1. As you progression, you can attempt the upward facing dog pose where the knees are just above the mat with the arms and legs in a similar position as the cobra pose. 
  2. You could also practice purna bhujangasana where the knees are bent backwards and the foot touches the back of the head. 

Advice for beginners

If you are a beginner, you can practice this asana for 30-60 seconds. As you progress, you can even attempt to hold the posture for 3-4 minutes to experience all the benefits. 

Practice tips for the cobra pose

Always ensure you have done warm up exercises before you get into this posture. Start with the easier variation and progress once your strength and flexibility improves. Remember to bend from the back very gently. If you have any back pain or are recovering from an injury avoid the asana or do not bend too much. 

Shvasa Tip

We always suggest that yoga should be practiced under the guidance of a trained yoga instructor to avoid any kind of physical injury. In this posture, do not let the hip turn or the legs go too wide apart. Do not raise the shoulders towards the ears. Make sure the knees are also straight and not bending as this will lead to a misalignment.

What is Bhujangasana and its benefits?
Bhujangasana, or Cobra Pose, is a yoga pose where you lift your chest and head while lying on your stomach. It strengthens the back, opens the chest and lungs, improves posture, stimulates the abdominal organs, relieves stress and fatigue, enhances flexibility, and energizes the body.
Who should not do cobra pose?
Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana, should be avoided or modified by individuals with back injuries, pregnancy, carpal tunnel syndrome or wrist injuries, recent abdominal surgery, and neck injuries or limitations. Consult with a qualified instructor or healthcare professional for personalized guidance.
Is Cobra good for your back?
Yes, Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) is generally considered beneficial for the back. When practiced with proper alignment and technique, Cobra Pose helps strengthen and stretch the muscles of the back, including the erector spinae, which support the spine. This can contribute to improved posture, increased flexibility, and a stronger back overall.
What are the side effects of cobra pose?
While Cobra Pose is generally safe for most individuals when practiced with proper form and under the guidance of a qualified instructor however you should not practice if you have back injuries, pregnant, carpal tunnel syndrome or wrist injuries, recent abdominal surgery or neck injury.
How To Practice Bhujangasana
Arunima Singhdeo

Arunima is the Founder & CEO of Shvasa. She was the cofounder and COO of which raised approx $20mn in funding from Accel Partners and Tiger Global, which was later acquired by The Mahindra Group. She was also a Vice President at Infoedge India - a successfully listed Internet company. Arunima is a Master Yoga & Meditation teacher with over 2000 hrs of practice and 1000 hrs of teaching Yoga. Her two passions are yoga and the internet.

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