Yoga Pose of the Week: Bhujangasana, Cobra Pose


Suki Dalury in Bhujangasana, by Zoe Zimmerman for Sundara Studios 2013

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) is a back bending posture that has a range of benefits from opening and strengthening the spine, to the supporting the subtle rising of Kundalini.

Begin laying face down with your hands underneath your shoulders, fingers spread wide, palms pressing into the floor. Inhale to draw your shoulders toward your ears, creating space in your waistline while you slide your rib cage toward your head.

Press into your hands to lift your arm bones and draw them in toward your spine, feeling your shoulder blades massage the back of your heart.  Inhale again to make your legs strong, hugging the muscle to the bone, and with your exhale draw your low abdomen up toward your navel to scoop your tailbone underneath you, lifting through your waist up into your heart and extending through the crown of your head.  If you have a mobile spine the tendency will to be to straighten your elbows; however, to really experience the heart opening and stress-relieving benefits of this pose, it is advisable to again bend your elbows, drawing your shoulder blades in toward one another and lifting your heart forward and up.  The head reaches back, extending through the whole spine.

Breathe deeply, and hold as long as you like.

I personally will admit that Bhujangasana is a pose I generally avoid — this said, within the practice of returning, I have come to learn the only way out of the discomfort is not through avoidance, but rather through practice.  It is on the journey through that one uncovers the skills to be present no matter the texture of the experience, and in its flavor to find peace in the power of the breath and the softness of grace.

Discomfort or not, the practice invites us to enjoy.