Cobra
BHUJANGĀSANA (भुजङ्गासन)
(bhoo-jahn-GAAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Bhujanga’= snake or serpent, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Serpent Pose
Snake Pose

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Backbend / Prone

Drsti
• Straight ahead – Eye level
• Forward – Slightly up toward the ceiling

1. Lay on your belly in prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana), with your legs close together and parallel, arms by your sides, palms and tops of feet face down, and your forehead on the mat.
2. Bring your hands under your shoulders, palms flat, and fingers spread out. Keeping your arms perpendicular and your elbows hugging your sides, push down through your palms as you lift your head. Straighten (not lock) your arms and slowly start arching your back and lifting the chest. Leave a slight bend to your elbows.
3. Keep your pelvis rooted to the mat and engage your upper back and shoulder to keep your shoulders and shoulder blades down. Open your chest as you lengthen your shoulder blades down your back.
4. Gaze forward, keeping your throat soft and the back of your neck long.
5. Engage your quadriceps to keep the tops of your thighs and tops of your feet flat on the floor. Slightly tighten (firm not harden) your buttock.
6. Hold for several breaths and then release back into a prone position or Reverse Corpse (Advasana).

Common Adjustments
• Elbows pushed out away from the body
• Overarching the neck (strained neck) and/or lifting gaze too high
• Lifting too high and putting too much pressure on the lower back
• Lifts hips
• Shoulders hunched by the ears, and chest collapsed
• Pinching or compression in the lower back (lumbar)
• Legs too far apart or lifted to get into posture
• Lifting the heels
• Lifting the tops of the feet
• All weight on the wrists

Modifications
• If students feel too much stress in their backs, have them bend their elbows a bit to relieve some of the pressure on the lower back. They can also walk their hands out farther.
• For students with wrist injuries or discomfort, either elevate their wrists with a blanket, folded mat, or bolster, or have them go down to their forearms (with or without a block).
• If there is too much pressure on the lower abdomen and hips causing discomfort, place a blanket or pillow under the pelvis and abdomen for support.
• To stretch and strengthen the back and gain balance, place a sturdy stool or chair in front of the student and up against a wall. Have them place their hands on the top of the stool or chair for support.
• Starting from the second trimester and on, pregnant students should do Cat Cow Pose (Durga-Go) so they do not put undue stress on their abdomen.
• For advanced students, bring your gaze upwards and lift a little higher. Students can also try lifting the feet to try and touch their head while keeping their hips down (King Cobra). Alternatively, students can also step the palms out slightly wider than the shoulders and walk the hands closer to the body.

Counter Poses
• Wide Child’s Pose (Prasarita Balasana)
• Child’s Pose (Balasana)
• Cat (Marjaryasana)
• Corpse (Savasana)
• Reverse Corpse (Advasana)
• Knees to Chest (Apanasana)
• Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

Anatomy
• Chest (Pectoralis Major) and Shoulders (Deltoids)• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques
• Lower (Lumbar), Middle (Thoracic), and Upper (Cervical) Back and Spine• Biceps and Triceps
• Hips (Iliopsoas and Psoas Minor) and Gluteus Maximus• Quadriceps and Hamstrings
• Calf muscles• Ankles

Benefits
• Strengthens and stretches the chest, shoulders, spine, lungs, hips, neck, ankles, thighs, back, abdomen and glutes. Also improves posture and alignment, increases flexibility, and the spines range of potion.
• Increases body heat and circulation thus purifying the blood. This also relieves stress, fatigue, backache, discomfort from sciatica or herniated disks, neck pain, menstrual discomfort, and constipation.
• Supports and improves digestion, stimulates appetite, massages the organs, and relieves flatulence and constipation through pressure on the abdomen. It also helps with gynecological disorders.
• Opens the chest, neck / throat, and shoulders and strengthens the lungs, which helps with asthma or respiratory problems.
• Improves overall back and neck health and energizes the legs.
• Benefits the liver, kidneys, and thyroid gland as well as stimulates the lymphatic system. Also calms the nervous system, which relieves tension, stress, anxiety, mild depression, and migraines.

Contraindications
1. Students with severe asthma, severe back injuries, spinal injury, neck injury, spondylitis, or have had abdominal surgery should avoid this pose due to pressure on the lower abdomen, back, and neck.
2. Students who are in their second trimester of pregnancy and further should avoid this pose do to pressure on the lower abdomen. Cat Cow Pose (Durga-Go) can be practiced instead.
3. Students with headaches, high blood pressure, an arm injury or shoulder injury should avoid this pose.
4. Students with wrist injury or carpal tunnel syndrome, ulcers and other stomach disorders should avoid this pose without modification or guidance and support.

Bandha
• Mula Bandha

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Charka Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In “THE ART OF VINYASA: Awakening Body and Mind through the Practice of Ashtanga Yoga” textbook by Richard Freeman & Mary Taylor textbook.
    • PART TWO: Āsana: Movements and Poses Strung Together Like Jewels on the Thread of the Breath in Chapter 5 “Building Sūrya Namaskāra”, this asana can be found as “Bhujańgāsana – Cobra Pose under the PAŃCA VARIATION.
  • In “Yoga Anatomy – Second Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew textbook.

    • CHAPTER 10 – PRONE POSES, this asana can be found as “Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose“. You can also see a variation called  “Bhujangasana with Knees Flexed”.

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