Step by Step
Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back into your body.
Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor.
On an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don't harden the buttocks.
Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.
Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.
Watch a video demonstration of this pose.
- Upper back
- 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
- Traditional texts say that Bhujangasana increases body heat, destroys disease, and awakens kundalini.
Contraindications and Cautions
- Back injury
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Don't overdo the backbend. To find the height at which you can work comfortably and avoid straining your back, take your hands off the floor for a moment, so that the height you find will be through extension.
Modifications and Props
If you are very stiff it might be better to avoid doing this pose on the floor. Brace a metal folding chair against a wall, and do the pose with your hands on the front edge of the seat, balls of the feet on the floor.
Your partner can help you learn about the correct action of the pelvis in a backbend. Once in the pose, have your partner straddle your legs. He/she should bend over and grip the sides of your pelvis, thumbs toward the sacrum, then spread the back of your pelvis, encourage your outer hips to soften, and push your hip points toward each other.
Deepen The Pose
If you have the flexibility in the armpits, chest, and groins you can move into a deeper backbend. Walk the hands a little farther forward and straighten your elbows, turning the arms outward. Lift the top of the sternum straight toward the ceiling.