stick figure of a person doing cobra pose (yoga) with the text 'a guide to cobra pose (bhujangasana)'

cobra pose – bhujangasana

(Last Updated On: February 14, 2021)

Oftentimes used as a transition pose, Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana, is much more than that.  During Sun Salutations, Cobra Pose may be interchanged with Upward Facing Dog. A wonderful pose to provide a tremendous chest opening and, with regular practice, can improve lung capacity and reduce stress.

set up

Lie facedown on the floor with hands palms-faced down under your shoulders** and your toes untucked.  Draw your low belly in toward your spine, press hips and pubic bone into the floor.  Press the tops of your feet into the floor, engage your legs.  As you inhale, squeeze your elbows in and raise your torso away from the floor.  Do not rely on your arms to lift up.  

**See ‘modifications’ for alternate hand placement

working within cobra pose

upper body

  • Spread your fingers and direct your middle finger to point forward
  • Draw your shoulder blades down and away from your ears, continue to lift higher through the crown of your head
  • Expand through your chest as you inhale – puff up like a cobra
  • In pressing the palms down, energetically spiral them outward (without actually moving them). Feel from this action how the elbows draw slightly in, the chest expands, and the lower tips of the shoulder blades draw in toward the heart

lower body

  • Continue to press hips and pubis into the floor firmly, but not to excess. Glutes are firm but not clenched
  • Internally rotate the thighs, press your tailbone toward your heels
  • Stretch straight backward through your legs and feet, keeping your legs together as one

modifications

  • There are three traditional hand placements for this pose.  The first, and most difficult, is with your hands by your lower ribs so that your forearms are vertical and your wrists create a right angle with the floor.  The second (described in ‘set up’) is with your hands under your shoulders, tips of your fingers aligning with the tops of your shoulders.  Last is the most mild in terms of sensation, and that is with the forearms completely on the floor (aka Sphinx pose).  Find a variation that is suitable to your body
  • The stretch should be evenly distributed through the spine in this pose. 
  • If you are feeling too much in your low back, bend the elbows more.  Adjust the bend in your elbows to find the right level of sensation. 
  • The whole spine must be involved in stretching, otherwise pain will occur in the weak areas.  Where there is a pinching feeling, that part of the spine is constricted, with the intervertebral discs rubbing against each other.  To avoid this, create space in the spine, extend and curve it vertebra by vertebra

contraindications

  • Low back issues
  • Arthritis in spine/wrists
  • Pregnancy
  • Carpal tunnel
stick figure of a person doing cobra pose (yoga) with the text 'a guide to cobra pose (bhujangasana)'

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