Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

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How to do it

Start lying on your stomach, forearms comfortably on the ground, shoulders relaxed, forehead down.

Inhale: Pull slightly back with your hands and lift the chest up, head remains in the neutral position.

Exhale: Bring your upper body down on exhale.

Breathing in Bhujangasana

Exhale: Anchor your pelvis evenly into the floor, creating a stable foundation.
Inhale: Keep pulling your chest forward and your hands slightly back, curving your spine from your neck all the way to the tailbone.

TRICK: DO NOT PUSH with your hands! Once you start pushing, you loose all the potential benefits and start compromising your back. Do your best to distribute the curve evenly throughout the spine and keep the head in line with the spine.

Pose adaptations

Three arm positions

Bhujangasana: Three arm positions is very useful when we want to progressively increase the engagement of the upper back. When you change your arm position, you also deepen the curve. It is also useful for teaching the students where the action should come from in Cobra.

Chin tuck

Bhujangasana: Chin tuck works great when you are trying to relieve neck tension, especially that iHunch you get from looking at your phone for too long.

Hands under hips

Bhujangasana: Hands under hips is very useful for exploration purposes. In Cobra we need to keep the pelvis leveled, but how do we know if it is or not? Placing tyour fingers under the hipbones helps to feel the pressure on the hands and makes it easier to notice if you are leaning one way or the other. Once you know, you can even it out.

One arm salute

Bhujangasana: One arm salute works great for relieving tension in the neck and upper back one side at a time. It is not as strong as keeping the arm extended all the way forward, so it’s easier for some students.

Arm pull

Bhujangasana: Arm pull is a heavy-duty upper back strengthener. It is very effective for releasing tension between the shoulder blades and in the back of the neck, but you need to make sure that your lower back is strong enough to hold you up. One way to make this move a bit easier is to bring your upper body down after each pull, rather then keeping it up for 4-5 pulls.

“Boat figurehead”

Bhujangasana: “Boat figurehead” is named that way because it looks like one of those faces at the front of old boats. The main point here is to stretch the fronts of the shoulders and the collar bones area. Since a lot of shoulder problems arise from being stuck in internal rotation, this move helps to counteract that tendency by rotating the shoulders externally. Make sure that your elbows end up facing in when you move your arms back.

On forearms

Bhujangasana: On forearms is similar to Sphinx pose. Keeping your forearms down provides more support for the upper body and lessens the challenge for the lower back. This is a good place for beginners to start experiencing this pose. However, they need to be encourages to actively pull back with their hands, otherwise they can just prop themselves on their forearms, forgoing the upper back action.


Arms back

Bhujangasana: Arms back intensifies the challenge for the lower back, strengthens your upper back and stretches your chest and shoulders. Anchoring your fingers on the floor allows you to pull slightly with your hands to widen the chest even more. It also ensures that your elbows point in (to rotate your shoulders externally), which helps to stretch the front part of the shoulder.


Hands to forehead

Bhujangasana: Hands to forehead is useful for loosening up the shoulders and strengthening the upper and lower back. It is not as strong as extending both arms forward, which means that it will work for most students. To add a bit more stretch for the neck you can alternatively bring your right or your left cheek down.


Bent knee

Bhujangasana: Bent knee is one of the best poses to loosen up the hamstrings and strengthen the muscles that support the knee. Just be sure not to turn the knee out when you bring the heel toward your buttock.

Bent knees

Bhujangasana: Bent knees is particularly useful when you are preparing for poses like Dhanurasana (Bow pose). It is good for back, glutes and hamstrings strengthening. If you notice that your knees are sliding apart, it might be useful to put a block between your thighs and work on squeezing it gently when you bend your knees.

Ankle flex

Bhujangasana: Ankle flex intensifies the work of your hamstrings and is great for loosening up the ankles. This version is useful when you intend to work with calves and ankles in your practice.

Three feet positions

Bhujangasana: Three feet positions is excellent for strengthening the posterior (back) structures that support your hips. It engages your glutes every time, but keeping the feet together also targets the adductors, and keeping the feet wide apart also engages the abductors. This is the best kind of multitasking.

Three positions lift

Bhujangasana: Three positions lift is excellent for both stabilizing your lower back and sacrum and strengthening your hips. It is more challenging for the lower back, so make sure that your body is ready for it.

Chair version

Bhujangasana: Chair version is a good option for those who cannot transition down to the ground easily or if there is not enough floor space for a full Cobra. It is just as good for the lower back.