Poses by Type

Cobra Pose

By providing a conscious opening in the chest and stretch in the shoulders, Cobra Pose, called Bhujangasana in Sanskrit, fights fatigue and relieves lower back pain, boosting both the energetic and the physical body.

How to Say Bhujanghasana in Sanskrit

(boo-jang-GAHS-anna)

bhujanga = serpent, snake

Cobra Pose Step-by-Step Instructions

None
Photo: Christopher Dougherty; Mat: Jade Yoga; Props: Hugger Mugger
  1. Begin on your belly with your feet hip-distance apart and your hands placed beside your ribs. 
  2. Extend your big toes straight back, and press down with all ten toenails to activate your quadriceps. 
  3. Spin your inner thighs to the ceiling (to broaden your lower back) while firming your outer ankles into your midline (to prevent your feet from sickling). 
  4. Pressing down lightly with your hands, start to raise your head and chest while rolling your shoulders back and down. 
  5. Keep the back of your neck long, and focus on lifting your sternum versus lifting your chin. 
  6. As your arms start to straighten, move slowly and mindfully. 
  7. Make sure to emphasize pulling your chest forward and coiling your thoracic spine rather than pushing onto your lower back—this is an important distinction, because your pelvis remains on the floor. 
  8. Move the bottom border of your shoulder blades in and up to open your chest from behind. 
  9. Only straighten your arms to the degree that allows your shoulders to remain away from your ears. 
  10. Keep at least a slight bend in your elbows to reinforce drawing out of your lower back and into your upper back. 
  11. Take your gaze up only to the degree that the curve of your neck is a continuation of the curve that has already been established in your upper back. 
  12. Hold for 5–10 breaths, then release back onto the mat.

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Cobra Pose Cues

Contraindications and Cautions of Cobra pose

  • Avoid or modify if you feel any pinching or pain in your low back
  • Avoid or modify in 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy to eliminate pressure on your belly
  • Modify if you have wrist pain in the pose

Benefits of Cobra Pose

  • Can boost energy and fight fatigue
  • Can help build confidence and empowerment
  • Improves posture and counteracts the effects of sitting and computer work
  • May help relieve lower back pain
  • Can counteract slouching and kyphosis of the spine
  • Stretches your abdomen
  • Strengthens around your shoulders, arms, and back muscles

3 Ways to Modify Cobra Pose

1. Cobra with support under hips

Try with a small bolster, pillow, or folded blankets under your hips to add a little height, and for some take the pressure out of the low back. Elbows can be slightly bent into Cobra Pose or straight into Upward Facing Dog

2. Cobra against the wall

Try against the wall

Lift your chin slightly and arch your back into a back bend

3. Cobra in the chair

Try seated in the chair with your hands behind your on the seat or back of the chair

Alternatively, your hands can be on your lap

Come into a gentle backbend by pressing your chest forward and lifting your chin slightly, bringing your gaze slightly up and ahead, perhaps to where the wall meets the ceiling ahead of you.

Preparatory Poses for Cobra Pose

Follow-up Poses after Cobra Pose

  • Backbends

More Pose Detail

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