how & why to do bhujanasana (cobra pose)

Cobra-pose-Bhujangasana5Bhujanasana is a wonderful pose for flushing out the kidneys, opening the heart and strengthening the back. This pose also opens and clears the throat chakra in the full variation with the head extending gently backwards, aiding the functioning of the thyriod gland.

It is a backwards bend that is accessible to most people, as it can be varied to prevent over-compression of the lower spine. Backwards bending is important for spinal mobility, which is vital to our health for for pain prevention.

To begin, lie face down, chin tucked, with your legs straight out behind you. If you have lower back pain or injuries, take the feet wide apart.

Press the pubic bone to the earth, drawing up Mula Bandha or the pelvic floor (to about half way) and activate the abdominals.

Place your hands on the floor directly underneath your shoulders, spreading your fingers on the floor with your index fingers facing forward, and hug your elbows to your ribs. If you have lower back pain, or wish to take a softer variation of the pose, take the elbows under the shoulders instead of the hands.

Keeping the shoulders down the back and the buttocks soft, inhale and lift the chest, using the back rather than the arms to lift the body, and if you are attempting the full variation, begin to straighten your arms, keeping a small bend in the elbows so prevent hyper extension of the joint and to ensure you are not using your arm strength more than necessary. If you feel any compression or pain in the lower back, slowly come out of the pose and take a forward bend.

Do work deeper into the pose, keep a focus on the pubic bone pressing to the earth, and open your heart forward. If you feel comfortable and there are no neck injuries, look upwards, gently taking the head backwards. Remember the head is an extension of the spine, so it should only go back as far as your spine is bending (i.e. do not drop the head all the way back on the upper back).

Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Release by lowering one rib a time to the mat, tucking your chin as you release your head. In Pilates, this pose is practiced repetitively as Cobra Push Ups to strengthen the back.

After practicing a backwards bend, always practice a forward bend, such as child’s pose or uttanasana, to counter the pose and balance the body.

We often carry emotional stresses in the form of tension in our backs, and backwards bending is a wonderful way to let go of the past to help us be in the present moment, to be in yoga.

If you have any questions about this pose, please ask us in class 🙂