The cobra posture (bhujangasana) is a back arching posture that is done by stretching the chest, arms, and shoulders. This posture is excellent for increasing spinal flexibility and reducing back pain. The cobra posture is usually done as part of a series of warm-up movements of the Suryanamaskara in yoga practice.
Part 1 of 4: Doing the Cobra Posture
Step 1. Lie on your stomach in the middle of the mat
Touch the backs of your feet to the mat and place your palms at your sides.
Try to press all fingers and toes into the floor in a straight position. Don't bend your toes in the cobra pose
Step 2. Press the floor with both palms
Place your palms on the floor, slightly under your shoulders so that your fingertips are directly under your shoulder muscles. Spread your fingers apart and press your palms against the floor evenly. At this point, your body is only a few inches from the floor with your back still straight.
Bring your elbows close to your body so that they are pointing backwards, not sideways
Step 3. Pull your shoulders back slightly and down away from your ears
Step 4. Activate your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button toward your spine
During the cobra pose, you should keep your abdominal muscles active to protect your lower back and keep your thighs in contact with the floor.
If your hips start to lift off the floor, engage your abdominal muscles to press your hips into the floor
Step 5. Begin in a low cobra posture by keeping your chest off the floor using your back and abdominal muscles to arch your back
As you lift yourself off the floor, keep pressing your palms, hips, and backs of your feet into the floor. Lift your chin and chest off the floor as if you want to bring your back to the ceiling. At this time, your chest will be 20-25 cm from the floor.
- You can use your hands to lift and support your body, but don't rely solely on hand strength. Your back and abdominal muscles should do more work to lift and support your body.
- If your neck feels uncomfortable when you look up, just straighten it and look at the floor to stay relaxed and comfortable.
Step 6. Hold the breath for 4-5 long breaths
Hold in cobra posture for 5 breaths before slowly lowering back to the floor or doing the next stretch. If your back feels sore or stiff, stop the exercise immediately.
Step 7. Raise your chest slightly higher again while exhaling
Press your hands and stomach back into the floor while arching your back slowly to allow for further stretch. As you exhale, try to arch your back a few more inches if it's still comfortable. Breathe to allow the muscles to stretch for 1-2 breaths before pressing again to arch your back further until you are more proficient in the advanced cobra posture.
You can bend your elbows or straighten your arms, depending on the length of your arms. If your pelvis lifts when you straighten your arms, bend your elbows slightly. Remember that keeping your lower body on the floor is much more important than arching your back deeper
Step 8. Remember that correct posture is much more important than deep stretching
The better your posture, the more healthy and beneficial this exercise will be. Watch the video above showing how to do the cobra posture with muscles and joints relaxed and aligned, not sideways. Some things you should pay attention to when practicing:
- The backs of your feet, thighs, hips, and palms should always press firmly against the floor.
- Pull your shoulders back slightly and lower them away from your ears.
- Spread your fingers and toes apart to maintain balance, but let them relax so you can move.
- Move slowly while taking deep breaths calmly and regularly.
- Activate the abdominal muscles by pulling the center toward the spine to help you move.
Part 2 of 4: Moving to and from the Cobra Posture
Step 1. Start with a mountain posture
Stand straight with your feet together. Bring your palms together on your chest in a prayer position. Straighten both arms up and down to the floor as if to touch your toes. Move forward from the hips while straightening your back. If you can't touch the floor right now, that's okay.
Step 2. Place your palms on the floor as if to do the cobra pose
You can bend your knees if you feel more comfortable. Spread your palms shoulder-width apart beside the soles of your feet. The position of the palms will later be slightly below the shoulders when you do the cobra posture.
Step 3. Step back as if you were doing a push up and then lower your knees to the floor
At this point, you will be in a plank position with your palms at your sides and your legs straight behind you. Your toes will be on tiptoe, but you can straighten and rest on the instep if your ankle isn't sore and then touch your knee to the floor.
Step 4. Lower your chest to the floor while keeping your buttocks in their highest position
Your body will be in a zigzag shape with your knees and chin on the floor, while your buttocks remain on top. This position is only as a fast-changing transitional posture.
Step 5. Slide your body forward and lift your chest while lifting your head or straightening your neck and lowering your pelvis to the floor
This is a move to get into the cobra posture by pressing your pelvis and legs into the floor while arching your back back and lifting your head. Once this movement is complete, you are in cobra posture.
If this movement feels difficult at first, just lower your buttocks to the floor. After that, adjust the position of the hands and feet so you can do the cobra posture
Step 6. Lower yourself back to the floor to return from the cobra posture
It's a good idea to do the hill posture first as a transitional movement or lower your body slowly to return to lying face down on the floor.
Step 7. Pull your toes in so you're back on tiptoes
This foot position is usually used when push ups.
Step 8. Lift your buttocks toward the ceiling while pressing your palms against the floor for a hill posture
First, lift your buttocks from a kneeling position and then slowly straighten your knees while continuing to move up. Your palms and soles should press firmly into the floor as you lift your buttocks as high as possible so that your body forms a triangle with the floor.
- Keep your fingers and toes relaxed and comfortable for easy movement.
- Try to straighten your elbows and knees, but don't lock them. Allow your knees and elbows to bend slightly if that feels more comfortable.
Part 3 of 4: Modifying Cobra's Posture
Step 1. Begin practicing the low cobra posture
If the cobra's posture feels challenging, practice slowly and arch your back very carefully. Choose a low cobra posture first, do not immediately do a high cobra posture. Never force yourself to bend your back back if it's uncomfortable because it can cause serious injury.
- If your back feels uncomfortable pressing your palms against the floor, lower your elbows to the floor just below your shoulders to perform the sphinx posture.
- You can do the standing cobra pose by placing your palms on the wall and pressing down on them, just as you would press the floor in the cobra pose described above. Push your chest forward by arching your back while bringing your shoulder blades together and tilting your head slightly. This is a very appropriate variation of the cobra posture for pregnant women.
Step 2. Do the more challenging cobra pose
If the cobra's usual posture seems too easy, vary it to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.
- To improve balance when performing the cobra pose, bend your right knee and then grasp your right ankle with your right hand for a one-sided frog pose. Hold for five breaths, take a short rest, then repeat on the other side. To make it more challenging, grab your right ankle with your left hand.
- If you want to arch your back more deeply, place a yoga block under your palms.
- Raise your palms a few inches off the floor to improve balance and strengthen your back muscles.
Step 3. Choose a deeper arched back posture
Do this exercise if the cobra's casual posture seems too easy and you want a more challenging workout. Start in your usual cobra posture, but to practice a deeper arch of your back, this time you can lift your hips and knees off the floor to put more weight on your palms.
- Many people are still confused between the usual posture of the cobra and the variations. In your usual cobra posture, your hips should be pressing against the floor with as little weight as possible on your palms.
- There are many other postures to practice arching your back, such as the wheel posture, bridge posture, and camel posture. Choose the one that suits you best and do it while practicing yoga.
Step 4. Do the cobra posture while practicing vinyasa yoga or warming up
Instead of doing the cobra pose separately, you can practice this posture as part of a series of movements as you would normally do in a yoga class.
- Vinyasa yoga classes with flowing movements usually do the cobra posture or use variations by lifting the hips followed by push ups and ending with the hill posture. This series of movements can be repeated in sequence or at any time during the yoga class.
- There are many ways to warm up in yoga, but it usually consists of a mountain posture and a forward bending standing posture followed by a flowing movement (vinyasa). The postures of Soldier I, Soldier II, and Soldier III are also common during the warm-up.
Part 4 of 4: Preparing Yourself
Step 1. Find out if the cobra posture is right for you
Don't do the cobra pose if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, have a wrist injury, have recently had surgery, or have back problems that get worse when you bend your back.
- Pregnant women are prohibited from lying face down if they want to do the cobra posture. Modify the cobra posture by standing and placing your palms on the wall and arching your back as if you were doing the cobra posture on the floor.
- If you've never practiced yoga before, talk to your doctor to make sure you're healthy enough to start practicing yoga and for instructions on how to modify your posture as you practice.
Step 2. Wear the right clothes
Choose comfortable clothes so that you can move freely and not be distracted while practicing yoga.
Also prepare a small towel if you sweat a lot. Use a yoga mat that can absorb sweat and is not slippery so your hands and feet don't shift to avoid injury
Step 3. Find a comfortable place to practice
If you want to practice on your own, find a place to practice that is quiet and free of distractions. Choose a place that is roomy enough to put your yoga mat and spread your arms in all directions freely.
Step 4. Start slowly
You can start practicing any of the cobra postures, depending on the flexibility of your spine. Even if you're fairly flexible, start arching your back gently to get your body ready.
- Practice to the best of your ability and don't compare yourself to others so that your practice is beneficial and avoids injury.
- If you want to practice yoga in class, your trainer may teach you the lowest or easiest cobra posture first. After that, you can do a higher cobra posture if you feel comfortable. Practicing gradually is a warm-up exercise to prepare your spine.
- Don't force yourself to arch your back if it's uncomfortable. To avoid arching too much, use your hands only to support your body, not to arch your back deeper.
- Try to press your hips into the floor during the cobra pose. If it's raised, it means you've done a variety of cobra postures.
- Lower your shoulders and away from your ears.
- When arching your back, don't feel pressure on your lower back. Immediately reduce the arch in the back if pain occurs.