Hello again, friend! Can you believe it is August already?! With the new month comes a new pose! August’s pose of the month for Finding Your Yoga is Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) as it’s known in Sanskrit. It is a gentle back bend that can prepare you for deeper back bends in the future.
I cannot praise this pose enough! As some of you know, I have been dealing with a bulging disc in my low back (L5-S1) since the beginning of the year. I was seeing my physical therapist once a week for core/glute strengthening and low back relief. I’d feel better but would ultimately end up back in his office after a short time. This went on for months (yes, months) until one day I was like, “Wait, I’m a yoga teacher. Surely there must be some poses I can do to help with this.” I started to incorporate back bending and spine lengthening postures and stretches into EVERY yoga class I took and taught. I have not seen my physical therapist in going on 2 months! Don’t get me wrong, I have still been strengthening my core and glutes to help protect my lumbar, but creating space in my spine has been a game changer. Cobra pose, and it’s variations, are a MUST in every yoga class. Read below for how-to instructions, modifications of the posture, and all of its juicy benefits!
Asana Symbolism (taken from the ‘Yoga Toolbox’):
- The snake represents the forces of the natural world. As the cobra rises up, it represents opening to receive spiritual energy. Grounded in the earth and open to receive spiritual energy, we meet life with a willingness to embrace all experiences, both positive and negative, as part of our process of learning and awakening.
- Lie flat on the belly with the tops of the feet resting on the mat hip width distance apart.
- Place your hands under your shoulders with your fingers pointing forward and elbows drawing back and hugging in towards the ribs.
- Ground your hands down into your mat squeeze your elbows back, drawing your shoulders away from your ears.
- Press down through the tops of your feet and pubic bone.
- On your next inhale, begin to lengthen your spine and lift your chest (your head will follow) using only the strength of your back. Keep your gaze down at the mat to start and keep your low ribs on the floor.
- Draw your shoulders and tail bone down towards the toes while your heart reaches forward, creating a long line of energy in the spine.
- **If this is challenging enough, stay here for 30 seconds of full breath cycles before lowering to the belly**
- If you want to take the pose further, begin to straighten the arms, lifting your chest off the floor while pressing the tops of the thighs firmly into the mat, pubic bone stays grounded. Elbows remain slightly bent.
- **Allow the lift to come as a natural extension of your spine, lifting your gaze is space allows (no crunching in the neck!)**
- Keep pressing your shoulder blades back and down, allowing your heart to boarded across the collar bones. Feel the lengthening in your spine from the crown of the head down through the toes. Create space between each vertebrae.
- Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds. Slowly release on an exhale, lowering down the belly, chest, and forehead.
Modifications and Variations:
- Place a blanket or bolster under your torso close to the pubic bone to maintain comfort in the low back.
- Stay in a low cobra, stopping at Step 7, and lift your palms off the ground to ensure the back muscles are engaged.
- Place a block in between your thighs and squeeze together on the inhale for extra strength.
Benefits of Cobra Pose:
- Strengthens the arms and shoulders
- Aligns and lengthens the spine
- Massages the internal organs
- Opens up the heart
So there you have it, go give this pose a try and let me know what you think!
“As I open the doorway to my heart, I naturally receive wisdom and guidance.”