Pose of the Week: Cobra Pose
July 15, 2010
Cobra Pose: Bhujangasana (Sanskrit)
Type of Pose: Backbend
Appropriate for Ages: 4 & up
Cobra Pose is a completely natural posture for the body. Think about the pictures you’ve seen of infants pushing themselves up from laying on the belly. There are multiple ways of practicing Cobra, depending on age and physical condition.
Basic Cobra Instructions
1. Begin lying on the belly with forehead on the floor. Place hands, palms down and fingers spread, underneath shoulders. Align fingers a few inches below collarbone. Draw elbows up toward ceiling and in towards each other, engaging the upper arms muscles. Simultaneously press fingertips into floor.
2. Press tops of feet into floor. Extend feet, reach through the big toes and spread all toes. Work to press each toe nail into the floor. While extending and pressing feet into floor, lengthen leg bones and engage leg muscles.
Hands, arms, legs and feet will be working fully by now!
3. Roll thighs in toward the midline of body so the inner thighs gently uplift toward sky. Press into 5th toes.
4. Engage abdominal strength to help lengthen the lower back such that the tailbone extends toward heels. Tilt the pelvis to create more length in lower spine.
5. Breath and check in with all of these points once more.
6. Gently press forehead into floor, lengthening back of neck. Reach through the crown of head. Back of neck is long and throat is open and relaxed. Avoid smooshing chin into neck.
7. In final preparation for lift off, draw upper arm bones toward the back of the body. Engage shoulderblades onto the upper back. Stretch across the collarbones.
8. With an inhale, press feet and hands into floor while extending the chest out and upward. Keep the head and neck aligned. Move from the core of body through to the crown of head.
9. Draw upper arm bones and muscles in toward midline. Keep shoulderblades alive on the upper back. Be sure the shoulders don’t rise toward the ears. Upper back and chest spread and expand as a Cobra’s neck.
10. Hold for 3-5 breaths. Inhale and exhale fully through the nose. Release slowly on an exhale while maintaining all alignment points.
For Young Children
Obviously, above are way many instructions for young folks. For ages 4-7, set up the pose as best as possible. Focus on hand and foot alignment. Then, lift up into Cobra for a breath or two and release. Repeat 3-5 times. Remind them that Cobra’s don’t have arms, so they need to use their back and belly strength. The legs become like the tail of the snake.
For Older Children and Teens
Practice holding pose for 3-5 breaths. Repeat 3-5 times. Integrate instructions over each repetition, rather than giving them all at once.
Be sure to do a counterpose after practicing Cobra. Child’s Pose is a good one.
Benefits of Cobra Pose from Yoga Journal
- Strengthens the spine
- Stretches chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen
- Firms the buttocks
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Helps relieve stress and fatigue
- Opens the heart and lungs
- Soothes sciatica
- Therapeutic for asthma