Cobra Pose

Common Title Cobra Pose
English Title Cobra Pose
Sanskrit Title Bhujangasana
All Titles Cobra Pose, Bhujangasana,
Pose Level Beginner
Pose Position Prone
Pose Type Back-Bend,
Sanskrit Pronunciation Play Audio
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Yoga Sequences

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In Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), as the name suggests, the body resembles a serpent with its hood raised. This yoga pose is considered as a very powerful backward bending yoga pose in Hatha Yoga. Cobra pose comes under the category of 'lying down on the stomach' yoga poses.

As this asana is considered powerful like the Cobra snake, a lot of care should be taken while going into the pose and coming out of the pose. Any jerks of the back while going into the pose can cause discomfort to the back and can also cause injury. While releasing too, the body must drop down slowly and not with a jerk.

How to do Cobra Pose

The below cues and yoga sequences added by yoga teachers show multiple ways to do Cobra Pose depending on the focus of your yoga sequence and the ability of your students.

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  1. Lower down to the mat, place the hands under shoulders and lift the chest from the mat. Push down through the hands and raise the chest higher for a d... ...
  2. Start lying on your front with hands under shoulders. INHALE- Lift up torso, sternum presenting forward, pelvis on the ground, shoulders loose and o... ...
  3. Bring your hands beneath your shoulders, and the tops of your feet on the floor. Keep your chin tucked in, looking forward or as comfortable. Inhale... ...
  4. Bring the hands up near the shoulders. Tops of feet on the floor. Feet are a little apart. Keep the head in a neutral position. Inhale - press into... ...
  5. drawing up into cobra pressing into the tops of your feet and your pubic bone and engaging your legs so much that your knees actually lift broaden a... ...
  6. the cobra carries deadly power. strong, cunning, and mystical ...
  7. schouders naar achter rollen en gebruik je onderrug spieren om je hart naar voren te brengen ...
  8. Push through the arms. Open the chest and squeeze the shoulder blades together. ...
  9. Vinyasa to down dog. Forward to tabletop then lower to the floor. ...
  10. Bring hands beneath the shoulders. Tops of feet on the floor. Feet are a little apart. Keep the chin tucked in, looking down. Inhale - press into t... ...
  11. Rise up into table top then down to the ground. ...
  12. Bring your hands beneath your shoulders, and the tops of your feet on the floor. Keep your chin tucked in, looking forward. Inhale - press into your h... ...
  13. small backbend, take it as deep as you like ...
  14. Bring hands beneath the shoulders. Tops of feet on the floor. Feet are a little apart. Keep the chin tucked in, looking down. Inhale - press into t... ...

Discover more cues, teaching ideas, and how to do steps at How to Do Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose Benefits

Cobra Pose Benefits:

Physical (Anatomical) Benefits

  • The nerves along the spinal column are toned and blood circulation is improved.
  • Improves overall back and neck while keeping the spine supple and healthy.
  • Helps in expanding the chest thus encouraging deep breathing. It works on the shoulders and corrects rounded shoulders.
  • As a lot of pressure is on the lower back, the lower abdominal muscles are also toned and strengthened.
  • Excess fat deposits around the buttocks, hips, neck, chest, arms, etc., are burned thus giving shape and tightness.
  • The nerves in the legs begin to circulate blood as the legs are stretched way beyond and they take part of the weight of the body in this yoga pose.

Health Benefits

  • The pressure on the abdomen is beneficial as it helps in better digestion, stimulating appetite, relieves flatulence and constipation.
  • Since the digestive organs are put to action, migraine is also taken care of.
  • A sluggish liver is also taken care of.
  • As the neck is stretched, the functioning of the thyroid gland improves.
  • It is also said that this yoga pose tones the kidneys which help with purification of blood, removing any stagnant blood and improving the health of the whole body.
  • Tones the ovaries and the uterus and helps to remove any disorders in connection to the uterus. Thus this Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) also helps during menstruation.
  • Therapeutic Benefits are as follows: relieves back ache, neck pain, stress, purifies bloo...
Continue reading more on Cobra Pose Benefits

Cobra Pose Contraindications

 (Bhujangasana) Cobra Pose Contraindications:

The few don'ts or contraindications that come under Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) are:

  • Those with severe back problems relating to the spine should clearly avoid this yoga pose.
  • Someone having neck problems relating to spondylitis too should clearly avoid this yoga pose.
  • Someone suffering from stomach disorders like ulcers should ensure proper guidance while doing this yoga pose or avoid this yoga pose if discomfort is seen or felt.
  • Pregnant women should avoid this yoga pose as a lot of pressure is felt at the lower abdomen and can also cause injury if the position of the arms is not correct while in this pose.
  • Someone suffering from severe asthma should avoid this pose and work on breathing techniques through pranayama before attempting Cobra Pose.

Thus with the guidance of a good yoga teacher and a qualified experienced yoga expert the above situations can be analysed and worked at with precautions.

Cobra Pose Variations

Cobra Pose Variations: Below are some common variations of the yoga pose Cobra Pose with base pose as Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana).

Learn more: Cobra Pose Variations

Cobra Pose Steps

 (Bhujangasana) Cobra Pose Steps:
  1. Lying on the stomach with face down , prepare the body with deep breathing and relax the spine.
  2. Place the palms of both arms close to your upper abdomen on the floor. The position of the arms and elbows should be aligned and close to your body as this gives the strength to raise the body.
  3. With feet stretched behind and keeping the toes together tighten the legs and lower back as you Breathe.
  4. Putting force on the palms inhale and stretch the face, chest , shoulders , arms, elbows and upper abdomen and take the body backwards straightening the arms.
  5. As you get comfortable with the arms stretched try and raise the neck backwards and gaze upwards. Stay in this position with slow rhythmic breathing.
  6. In this position the entire body is tightened and focus on the lower back and lower abdomen .The body is balancing on the lower pelvic region and the thighs.
  7. Ensure not to put all the body weight on the wrists and elbows, as this can bring discomfort thus not allowing the body to balance longer. The weight should be spread from the wrists to the shoulders and some part to the lower back. This surely requires some practice.
  8. As you exhale bring the upper body backwards and neck upwards. Focus on the stretch and remain here as long as the body can take it.
  9. The longer you hold the body in this pose the stronger will be the back and spine.
  10. Ensure the ears are away from the shoulders as you look up thus making sure the shoulders are strong and straight and not curved in.
  11. With practice one should learn to keep both the legs close to each other and tighten the buttock muscles. By keeping the feet apart the shape of the body will cause more injury to the lower back.
  12. While trying to release the pose ensure first the elbows are bent, slowly bringing the lower back, chest, neck and face to the floor. Then release the entire pose and relax the spine by deep breathing. Focus on feeling the spine contract with every exhalation.
Learn more: Cobra Pose Steps

Cobra Pose Modifications

 (Bhujangasana) Cobra Pose Modifications:

Reading the strength and flexibility of the body of the students should be an important observation by the yoga teachers. As no two bodies have the same flexibility and shape, the alternative ways to perform a particular yoga poses can vary. The common modifications though are explained below:

  • It is important to enjoy and understand the body during the practice of any yoga pose, so in Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) try and avoid pushing the back beyond your limit. In order to get the back a bit comfortable, you could bend the elbows a bit backwards and release the stress around the lower back.
  • If the wrists are not strong to be placed on the floor directly, you could use a blanket to give that extra support and enjoy the yoga pose.
  • If the back is still stiff and you cannot take it further, then try and start with supporting the body on the upper abdomen and chest first.
  • If a student has a strong back but looses balance due to uncontrolled breathing, the yoga teacher can help by lifting the arms of the student from behind thus giving the back the stretch that is required.
  • One can use the wall for support too. Having the chest close to the wall, place the entire arms on the wall and stretch upwards on the wall. But make sure you have a teacher to guide you as a slip of the arms can cause injury.
  • If the pressure on the lower abdomen is causing discomfort, then place a blanket below your pelvis and abdomen and with support raise the body up.

Remember the more the lower back is relaxed the more the rest of the body will relax. One can relax with proper breathing which is essential for the perfection of any yoga pose.

Cobra Pose Yoga Sequence Preparatory Poses

As Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) also works on the shoulders and arms apart from the back, the muscles around these shoulders and arms should be relaxed and worked at before going in to Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana). Some of the yoga poses for preparation of Cobra Pose are explained below:

  • Stretches like Standing Spinal Twists (and Standing Spinal Twist II), Standing Side Bend Pose, Standing Backbend, Standing Side Stretch, Standing Pelvic Circle and Standing Forward Fold are a good way to open up the arms and lower back.
  • Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutation): The series of yoga poses in Suryanamaskar has in itself 12 yoga poses and of which Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) is one of them. So practicing the Surya Namaskar is beneficial. It tones the biceps and triceps, thus making them stronger for Bhujangasana.
    Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog): In this yoga pose as the back is arched upwards with full support from the legs and arms, the much needed stretch is an opening to the back. As the body also holds itself partly on the shoulders and arms, this again gives the strength needed to be used in Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana). Toning of the biceps and triceps helps in taking the body easily in Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana).
    Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
  • Advasana (Reverse Corpse Pose): As much as this is a relaxing yoga pose, it can bring in the benefit and the stretch needed for the practice of Cobra Pose. While at this yoga pose with face facing down and laying down on your tummy, start deep breathing and begin to connect the breath with the lower muscles around the spine. Feel it expanding with every inhalation and feel it contract with every exhalation. Repeat this for at least six breaths. This practice will relax the muscles around the spine and lower abdomen, thus ensuring the smooth flow of the body in Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana).
    Reverse Corpse Pose (Advasana)
  • Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx Pose): The first stage of Cobra Pose where the entire upper body is not raised but is given support with the elbows placed on the floor parallel to each other.
    Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana, Niravalasana)

The preparatory yoga poses can vary depending on the level of the student and their body. Thus the sequencing for Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) should be followed depending upon the students flexibility. The above yoga poses were more for the intermediate level of the students.

Cobra Pose Yoga Sequence Relaxing Follow-up Poses

The benefit of any yoga pose can be obtained only if the muscles which were put to stress are relaxed immediately. Thus under the category of relaxing yoga pose or follow-up yoga poses for Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), a few are explained below:

  • Prasarita Balasana (Wide Child's Pose): From Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) move the body backwards and sit on the heels continuing to stretch the arms in front of you. Keep a foot distance apart between your feet and two foot distance between your knees and place the body in between the knees on the floor ensuring your chest touches the floor. This will relax the shoulders and neck and help in contracting the muscles around the shoulders and neck.
    Wide Child Pose (Prasarita Balasana)
  • Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose): Move the body up and straight from Wide Child's Pose and sit on the heels with the back straight. Relaxing the neck and shoulders place the palms on the thighs and take deep breaths. Ensure the back is straight and up. This further relaxes the muscles around the neck and lower back.
    Thunderbolt Pose (Vajrasana)
  • Matsyasana (Fish Pose): Lying down on your back completely, stretch the legs out. Placing the palms on the floor or on the thighs raise your chest and neck upwards bringing the crown of the head down to the floor behind you. In this position the entire upper back is raised above the floor and is balanced on the crown of the head. This yoga pose helps in relaxing the neck and shoulders by taking it in the opposite direction when stretched after Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana).
    Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
  • Savasana (Corpse Pose): Now take the body into complete relaxation pose by settling the body on the floor, with feet apart and arms away from the body. Closing your eyes focus on the movement of the chest and abdomen with breathing. Concentrate on relaxing the body by loosening the limbs.
    Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Thus are few yoga poses which can relax the body after performing Cobra Pose. The sequence of the yoga poses can be modified as per the requirements of the students and their level of practice.

Cobra Pose Yoga Sequence Level Up Follow-up Poses

Surely with the practice of Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) the body would be ready to explore the more challenging yoga poses, some of which are explained below:

  • Salabhasana (Locust Pose): While lying on the tummy raise both extremes of the body and balance the body on the lower abdomen and pelvic organs. Place the arms close to your ears and stretch them and hold them in Namaste. The upper part of the body should be raised at about 40 degrees and lower part of the body at about 30 degrees. The stress on the lower abdomen and lower back should be felt with deep breathing. Remain here as long as you can.
    Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
  • Dhanurasana (Bow Pose): In this yoga pose the body will look like that of a Bow, with strong chest and shoulders. Holding your ankles from behind you with both knees bent in lying down position, raise the upper body. Straighten the arms and elbows behind you and with the support of the legs, raise the body upwards balancing the body on the lower pelvic organs and thighs. The chest and shoulders are moved out and back giving them a strong look. Gaze in front of you while trying to raise the neck a little upwards. This yoga pose strengthens the arms and back as the muscles are stretched to the maximum.
    Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
  • Salabhasana Variation (Locust Pose Variation): This yoga pose is considered difficult under the category of lying down yoga poses. Here the body is balanced on the chest and chin thus giving more pressure to the lower back. By bringing the legs close to each other in the lying down position on tummy, raise the lower body from the pelvic area and balance the body on the chest and chin with arms placed close to the sides on the floor. This tones the muscles around the spine to the maximum thus curing all kinds of back pain.
    Locust Pose Variation (Salabhasana Variation)
  • Ustrasana (Camel Pose): Seated on your heels with bent knees as in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose), raise the body up and balance on the knees and legs with few rounds of breathing. Placing both palms on the hips close to the lower back, slowly bring the upper body backwards bending the neck in the opposite direction. Allow the neck to fall back comfortably and release the hands and bring them to the floor close to your feet. The body in this yoga pose will look like that of a Camel. The further stretching of the back in the opposite direction will help in toning the muscles of the spine, upper back and shoulders.
    Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

Most of these back bends improve the blood circulation around the spine and thus bring an overall balance to the nervous system.

Cobra Pose Breath Awareness

 (Bhujangasana)

Any yoga pose that brings maximum stretch to the muscles around the spine needs to be practiced carefully with controlled breathing. As Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) is about the stretching of the back and upper back, breathing plays an important role.

  1. Inhale and raise your body upwards while placing both palms near the upper abdomen on the floor. Exhale once you have expanded the upper body.
  2. Taking another deep breath slowly raise the forehead, bend the neck backwards and then slowly raise the shoulders, chest and abdomen. Remain here with deep breathing and then slowly move into slow breathing.
  3. To stay in this yoga pose for a longer time ensure the weight of the body is spread evenly around the shoulders, lower abdomen, thighs, back and elbows. If all the weight is on the lower abdomen then breathing becomes difficult thus loosing balance of the pose.
  4. It is the breathing that brings the magic to the body in this yoga pose. Every inhalation should make the body rise up and back and should press the pelvic on the floor thus tightening the lower back muscles.
  5. To release from this yoga pose, exhale and slowly bring the lower abdomen, chest, and finally the forehead on the ground using the support of the elbows by bending it a bit. Place the arms close to your sides and relax in complete Makarasana (Crocodile Pose).
  6. Bring the body to a relaxed stage in Makarasana and begin the slow breathing taking the mind to the movement of the spine. With every exhalation contract the spine and release the stress around the spine.

A good practice of breathing is essential because of the pressure on the lower abdomen during this pose. Please remember most backbends require mastery over abdominal breathing.

Cobra Pose Yoga Sequences

Cobra Pose Titles in English and Sanskrit

Many yoga poses have multiple titles because of differences in their Sanskrit to English title translation or a specific title becoming popular because of it's common usage amongst yoga teachers and yoga practitioners. Below are common titles of Cobra Pose:

  • Cobra Pose
  • Bhujangasana

Cobra Pose Sanskrit

Please click on the link below to listen to Sanskrit pronunciation of Cobra Pose:

Play Sanskrit Audio File.

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