Cobra Pose Bhujangasana Step by Step and Benefits
Cobra pose or Bhujangasana (pronounced as bhu-jan-GAH-sana) is a basic yoga pose with many health benefits. The stretching of various body parts leads to better blood circulation and improves the functions of that particular organ.
Note: This article is fact-checked by Nimish Deshpande Certified Yoga Professional
In the ancient works of literature of India, yoga has been mentioned as a tool to attain virtues like discipline, control, non-attachment, self-discovery, etc.
It is said to be the basis of leading a good and healthy life. Many people consider it a virtuous practice, but for some, it is a path for a disease-free life.
Yoga helps to decipher the meaning of life and reshape the habitual pattern (1). In this write-up, we will dive deeper into the benefits of the cobra yoga pose and how it is done.
One of the most prominent yoga sequences is the Surya Namaskar, and the cobra yoga pose is a crucial part of it.
The posture of the Bhujangasana that is rooted in our history is an excellent method to attain flexibility, strength, and balance.
Difficulty Level: Beginner.
Key Benefits: Improve digestion, reduce belly fat, help in menstrual cramps.
What is Bhujangasana?
Bhujangasana is another name of cobra pose as per the Sanskrit manuscripts.
The posture in cobra pose looks like the risen hood of the cobra. The Bhujangasana is reckoned as one of the integral parts of the sun salutation series or Surya Namaskar.
It is an excellent yoga for beginners to start with as it prepares the body for deep backbend yogas. Generally, the lower back region is more flexible as compared to the thoracic region of the body.
The cobra yoga pose is assessed as one of the best yoga asanas to improve the flexibility of the spine and back.
It stretches the intercostal muscles while enabling the rib cage to broaden. It increases the breathing capacity of the lungs and is beneficial for patients with asthma.
About the Origin
The origin of the cobra yoga pose is contributed to the majestic king cobra. King cobra is known for its smooth gliding motion and the high uplifting of its hood.
The spectacular lifting of half of the body inspires the cobra yoga pose that enhances the flexibility of various body parts.
It invigorates energy as well as a sense of vigilance and stamina.
Step by Step Instructions
Video: Courtesy Swami Ramdev
Cobra yoga poses can be categorized into three stages. Every stage of the Bhujangasana is described in the following section:
A. Balancing the initial backbend
- Start with lying flat on your tummy.
- Support yourself on your forearms while the elbows are placed under the shoulders. The forearms should be parallel to each other.
- Now keeping your legs a hip-width apart, stretch them straight. Spread the leg digits wide, and press the front of the foot on the yoga mat.
- With gentle pressure on your forearms, try to lift the chest in the air while keeping the tailbone and legs firmly stretched out.
- If you find difficulty supporting your lower back, try to engage the abdominal muscles. Use the stomach surface to support the lower back while you free your upper back to bend backward. It will lead to a greater opening of the upper back region.
- Hold on to the position while taking deep breaths. Try to keep your senses open to perceive everything around you. When you feel the extra strain, slowly release the pose and bring it to the floor.
B. Strengthening the upper back
- With still flat on the belly, extend the legs as done in the previous step.
- Fold the elbows, and put them with flat palm beside the section of the middle ribs.
- Keep the toes planted on the yoga mat.
- Stretch the tailbone along the foot by pushing it backward.
- Planting your palms on the mat, apply pressure on them while using the power of the back muscles to heave up your chest from the floor.
- To increase the stretch of your waist, you can engage only the abdominal muscles lightly while pressing your shoulder blades towards the chest.
- Once you are able to keep your chest stable in the air, take slow and deep breaths while bringing your body back to the normal position. While doing so, sway your head from side to side, and wriggle the hips to ease out the tension.
- Then relax for a moment before kicking off for the final posture of the cobra yoga pose.
C. Retaining the final pose
- To start with the final step of the Bhujangasana, you need to follow the initial step of the previous two stages, i.e., lying with your stomach pressed on the floor.
- In the last stage, the palms will lie flatly on the floor just behind the position of your shoulders.
- Stretch your legs towards the back along the line of your tailbone. You must keep your legs apart with a hip-wide distance between them.
- Lift the upper body from your navel. While you lift it, pull your hands against the yoga mat.
- Gradually, the chest region should be lifted in the air while moving it forward. Your hands should be stretched to the maximum extent throughout this step but avoid putting a strain on your back.
- If you are comfortable with this final position, inhale a lungful of air deeply. While exhaling, stick out your tongue and expel your breath by hissing it out. With gradual and relaxed breathing, coil back on your belly. While you lie on your stomach, normalize your breathing pattern, and then you can relax by pressing your body back into the child pose
When starting the cobra yoga pose, do not rush onto the last step. You should move deliberately through the previous steps to adapt to the arm movements and stretching to avoid injury.
1. Relief from sciatica
During the cobra yoga pose, a good amount of pressure is exerted on the lower waist or back region of the body.
As a result, the lower back and abdominal muscles get strong with the constant practice of the cobra pose. It helps to reduce the pain of sciatica (2).
2. Stretches abdominal region
Owing to the sedentary lifestyle, the abdominal organs and muscles lose their flexibility with time and invite various disorders.
The stretching of legs in cobra pose helps to facilitate smooth blood circulation in the various organs.
It also helps to tone the kidneys and improve the blood purification process. Any trace of the toxin-laden or stagnant blood is filtered in the kidney and enhances overall health.
It is one of the best yoga asanas to reduce belly fat.
3. Relieves asthma
With stretching of the chest, the cobra yoga pose encourages deep breathing. The deep inhalation and exhalation practice helps do expand the chest and relieves the shortness of breath issues in asthmatic patients.
Breathing exercises also help in improving lung capacity in general.
4. Strengthens female reproductive organs
The Bhujangasana is helpful to relieve primary dysmenorrhea i.e. menstrual cramps (3). Practice this yoga pose daily except during the menstruation period when it advisable to take rest.
As the pelvic region of the body is subjected to stretching during the yoga pose, it tones the ovaries and uterus.
The cobra yoga pose helps to reduce any health issues related to the female reproductive organs. It is very beneficial for women suffering from PCOS.
5. Improves Digestion
While performing the Bhujangasana, the abdominal organs experience tension, improving the blood circulation that helps to improve digestion.
According to time-honored texts, the Bhujangasana increases the digestive heat that in turn helps to fight against diseases. Apart from this one you can try other yoga asanas that improve digestion.
6. Relieves Stress and Fatigue
The extensive stretching and expansion of both the thoracic and abdominal muscles facilitate the circulation of oxygenated blood to every nook and cranny of the body.
It invigorates the muscles and provides relief from stress and anxiety. The fatigued muscles when spanned eases the pain and soreness.
7. Tones the Hip Muscles
Due to stretching and extension of the lower abdominal and pelvic muscles, the hip region encounters a substantial amount of pressure. Most of the fat accumulation is in the low waist region and the buttocks.
The cobra yoga pose helps to burn the deposited adipose tissues. It helps to tone the buttocks, hips, and the belly for a slender waistline.
8. Strengthens the Spine and Back
The cobra yoga pose is not only beneficial for the abdominal muscles, but it is also effective for the upper body like chest, back, shoulders, etc.
While performing the pose, the nerves along the spinal cord get toned with refinement in the blood circulation.
The deep bending towards the back enhances the deep core muscles that help to keep the neck, back, shoulders, and chest healthy.
9. Improves Posture
Various core muscles maintain the correct posture during the cobra yoga pose. These core muscles are the ones that actively bring the body, and help to maintain the upright posture while we are standing or sitting.
During the Bhujangasana, there is the development of core muscles to improve the overall posture of the body.
The boosting of spinal health and back muscles also contribute to rectifying the postural disturbance.
10. Uplifts Mood and Energy Levels
The upliftment of mood and invigoration of new energy can be attributed to the postural rectification achieved from the cobra yoga pose.
A good posture nurtures mental health with a constructive and optimistic attitude towards life. The improved blood circulation throughout the body creates an exhilarating experience that instills new vigor.
11. Helps with Type 2 Diabetes
Bhujangasana along with other yoga asanas helps the diabetic person to normalize sugar (4). If you are suffering from diabetes it is advisable to focus on the right food, medication, and perform yoga.
When to Avoid Cobra Pose or Bhujangasana
There are a few health conditions where cobra pose shall be avoided.
People who are suffering from severe back pain and spinal cord injury should stay away from practicing the cobra pose. The extensive use of the back and spine muscles can worsen the condition.
Patients of spondylitis and neck movement restrictions must not practice the cobra yoga pose. There is a pressure exerted on the neck while suspending the upper body in the air, and it can cause pain in people with a neck injury.
Pregnant ladies should absolutely restrict from doing the cobra yoga pose. The asana requires lying flat on the stomach and putting intercostal as well as abdominal muscles to use. It can be extremely harmful to the baby as it can lead to injury or miscarriage.
Carpal tunnel syndrome
People with carpal tunnel syndrome face pain, numbness, and tingling sensation in the hand or arm. The major reason for this condition is compression of the median nerves. While doing the cobra yoga pose, the median nerve is likely to face a contraction of squeezing that can elevate the condition of the patients.
Severe asthma: Patients with severe asthmatic conditions are likely to face shortness of breath while holding up the final position. They should do the asana with caution and under medical supervision.