The term Bhujangasana is a combination of the words ‘bhujanga’ (the Sanskrit word for snake or serpent) and asana (posture). It is often referred to as the Cobra Pose, as it reflects the posture of a cobra that has its hood raised. The Cobra Pose opens up the shoulders and the neck, stretches muscles in the shoulders and chest, strengthens the arms and also helps treat constipation”. It can be significantly useful at relieving discomfort in the muscles of the back, neck and abdomen. It helps reducing stress. It is part of the sequence of yoga postures in Surya Namaskar as well. Yoga for upper back pain is especially effective for people with poor posture or sedentary jobs that require long hours seated in the same position.

It is one of the best yoga postures for those looking to increase upper body flexibility. Basic yoga poses such as Bhujangasana are ideal yoga exercises for beginners as these yoga postures help to tone the muscles that are required for more strenuous poses.

Steps to Perform Bhujangasana

Step 1: In prone lying with your toes flat on the floor and your forehead resting on the ground.

Step 2: Place your hands (palms downwards) under your shoulders, keeping your elbows parallel and close to your chest.

Step 3: Taking a deep breath in, slowly lift your head, chest and abdomen while keeping your navel touching the ground.

Step 4: Pull your chest back slowly and off the floor with the support of your hands.

Step 5: Focus on your breathing as you slowly curve your back.

Step 6: If possible, straighten your arms by arching your back as much as possible; tilt your head back and look up. Don’t over stretch as performing this pose incorrectly can strain your lower back muscles.

Step 7: Keep your shoulders relaxed, even if it means bending your elbows. Ensure that your feet are still close together.

Step 8: Hold the asanas for a few seconds in the beginning stages. You can go up to two minutes as you progress.

Common Mistakes 

1.Locking the elbows: “Many people keep their arms totally straight while getting into Bhujangasana and that is incorrect. 3. Jamming the neck: In the classical version of Cobra pose, the neck is arched back in a graceful extension of the spine.

2.Crunching the lower back: Cobra isn’t about how high you can lift but about your spinal extension. Peel yourself off the floor one vertebra at a time to create a beautiful, even arc

3.Wrong hand placement: “Before you lift your head and chest from the floor, make sure your hands are positioned correctly”.

4.Clenching the buttocks: There is a temptation to squeeze the buttocks in Bhujangasana as the backward bend doesn’t come naturally to the body. Save energy and relax your glutes instead.
Benefits of Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

  • Strengthens the back muscles.
  • Improves flexibility of the upper, middle back.
  • Tones the abdomen
  • Decreases stiffness of the lower back
  • Improves menstrual irregularities.
  • Stretches muscles in the shoulders, chest and abdominals
  • Helps relieve stress and fatigue.
  • Stimulates organs in the abdomen, like the kidneys and improves digestion
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Relieves stress and fatigue
  • Opens the chest and helps to clear the passages of the heart and lungs. Hence, helps to ease symptoms of asthma
  • Strengthens the spine and soothes sciatica

Contraindications

There are certain instances where it is better to avoid this pose:

If you are pregnant, have fractured ribs or wrists, or recently underwent abdominal surgeries, such as for hernia and if you have suffered from chronic diseases or spinal disorders in the past.

Namastey…