Many yoga postures emulate the behaviors of animals. Take the cobra pose for example: much like the serpent lifts its upper body to present itself in an attack or to look for food, we practice lifting our bodies in the cobra pose (bhujangasana in Sanskrit). While this yoga pose isn’t meant to prepare us to start a fight or search for a meal, it does prepare us to safely attempt larger backbend poses, like upward dog.
Although the cobra yoga pose might look like a fairly simple move, it requires special care and attention to do it correctly. Many beginner yogis tend to crunch their back down instead of elongating their spine, which is the main goal of this pose. When done correctly, cobra is a great way to open your chest and stretch the muscles in the front of your body. Follow the video and instructions below to learn how to do the cobra pose properly, and check out the tips to make it easier or harder, depending on your skill level.
How to do Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Starting in plank, slowly lower down through chaturanga to the floor. Untuck your toes so the tops of the feet are on the mat.
Getting into the pose
Place your hands on the mat under your shoulders. Keep your legs straight, and press the tops of your feet into the mat. On an inhale, press into your palms and lift your chest off the floor using your arm and back muscles. (Only lift your chest to a height that avoids pinching your lower back.) Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides.
Keep a slight bend in your elbows. Open your chest and press your shoulder blades down the back away from your ears. Don’t crunch your lower back – it should feel lengthened. Engage your leg muscles by keeping them straight and pressed into the floor.
Cobra Pose Tips and Modifications
- Focus on lengthening the spine, not crunching it down. Do this by reaching your chest forward and up.
- Want to make the cobra yoga pose more challenging? Do this by lifting your hands up off the mat after you lift your chest. This will engage the spinal muscles eve more.
Cobra Pose Benefits
Cobra pose is a good stretch for the front of the body, including the chest, shoulders, and abs. By stretching your shoulders and chest, this pose allows you to breath more deeply. Cobra also strengthens the muscles along the spine which helps to promote good posture. Think of it as a way to counteract all the slouching we do when we bend forward over our phones, computers, and steering wheels. Finally, when the cobra pose is done correctly, it activates the leg muscles as you reach them straight behind your body.