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Cobra Pose

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  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.