Every yoga pose, known in Sanskrit as an “asana,” has its own way of bringing the body and mind into greater harmony. World-renowned yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar poetically compares the body to a bow and each asana to the various arrows with which individuals target the ultimate aim of yoga practice — the soul.
This guide offers an in-depth look at cobra pose (bhujangasana).
About the Pose
If you want to get in touch with the Serpent Goddess and awaken your kundalini, this is the pose for you. Bhujangasana derives its name from the bold cobra because your body in this pose reflects that of a cobra about to strike. Yoga teaches people to look for connections in everything around them. Animals, in particular, offer insights into this complicated, amazing world. Use this pose to feel the same strength, flexibility, and resilience as a cobra.
- Rejuvenates the spinal region
- Tones the back muscles
- Massages away menstrual pain and digestive problems
- Expands the rib cage and chest
- Opens the chest, shoulders, and throat
- Pregnant women shouldn’t practice cobra pose. Instead, they can do a standing variation that doesn’t put pressure on the abdomen.
- People with high blood pressure or severe spinal or neck injuries should avoid this pose.
- Camel Pose (Ustrasana): This beginner pose improves posture, relieves back and shoulder stiffness, and increases lung capacity.
- Upward Bow Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana): This intermediate pose promotes healthy blood circulation while strengthening the spine as well as the organs in the abdominal and pelvic regions.
Recommended: Browse more of our guides on the art and practice of yoga to harmonize your body, mind, and soul.
Trying It Out
Keep your breathing full and steady throughout your practice, and follow these step-by-step instructions to try this pose out for yourself:
Start out in a relaxed position, lying flat on your stomach. The tops of your feet should remain flat on the floor with your toes pointed slightly inward.
Rest your forehead on the floor and move your legs together so they touch. Remember to keep your feet pressed to the floor as you bend your elbows and place your palms directly beneath your shoulders.
As you inhale, lift your head slightly so your nose now touches the floor instead of your forehead. Inhale again and touch your chin to the floor rather than your nose. (This thoughtful transition prepares you for the main stretch ahead.)
Slowly roll upwards, pushing up from the floor with your grounded palms as you mostly use your back muscles to move into this position. Keep your elbows slightly bent and your shoulders relaxed.
Tilt your head all the way back and breathe gently through your nose for at least 10 seconds.
Refining the Pose
Achieving maximum benefit from your yoga practice requires you to pay close attention to your physical alignment. To ensure you maintain proper alignment, ask yourself these questions:
- Did you use your back muscles to roll upward into this pose?
- Are your shoulders relaxed?
- Are your elbows bent slightly?
- Is your abdomen pressed to the floor?
- Did you distribute your weight evenly between your hands?
- Is your head tilted back as if you’re trying to look at the wall behind you?
- Half Cobra Pose (Ardha Bhujangasana): Instead of pushing up from the floor with your elbows bent, stretch upwards while keeping your forearms on the ground at a shoulder-width apart.
- Cobra Pose Arms Out (Bhujangasana Variation Arms Out): This variation engages your core as you stretch your arms outward and slightly upward.
- Crocodile Pose on Elbows (Makarasana on Elbows): This variation starts by following steps one through four of cobra pose. Then, instead of keeping your hands on the floor, use your elbows to bolster you up. Place your hands on your chin as you rest your face in your hands.
- Revolved Cobra Pose Arm on Leg (Parivrtta Bhujangasana Arm on Leg): This intermediate pose gently twists your spine as you reach one arm behind you to rest on the corresponding knee.