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.
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.
How to do the Cobra pose
Getting into the posture
- Lie flat on the stomach with the legs straight, feet together and the soles of the feet facing upwards.
- 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.
- Position the arms so that the elbows point backward and are close to the sides of the body.
- Rest the forehead on the floor and close the eyes.
- Relax the whole body, especially the lower back. Now slowly raise the head.
- Straighten the elbows, using the back muscles first, then the arm muscles to raise the trunk further and arch the back.
- In the final position, the pubic bone remains in contact with the floor and the navel is raised a maximum of 3 mm.
- The arms may or may not be straight; this will depend on the flexibility of the back.
Getting out of the posture
- Slowly release the upper back by bending the arms.
- Lower the navel, chest, shoulders and finally the forehead to the floor.
Key alignments in Cobra pose
- Ensure the palms are below the shoulders and just slightly to the side.
- Do not raise the navel too high. The bend should be from the back and not the knees.
- 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.
Variations of Cobra pose
- If you are a beginner, keep the elbows next to the body and lift up the chest.
- You can also keep the elbows bent, instead of keeping the arms straight.
- You can twist upper body to the back until you see the opposite heel.
- 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.
- 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.
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.