Some yoga poses are not as accessible as the cobra pose. Also known in Sanskrit as Bhujangasana, it is one of the few poses that is taught at all levels and styles of yoga.
This falls into a category of poses called backbends , in which the spine is arched backward, a movement known as a spinal extension. Moving in this direction is helpful in counteracting all the forward movement and rounded postures that many of us adopt throughout the day.
Although the Cobra pose is typically included in the Sun Salutation warm-up sequence, it is a powerful pose on its own that we should all try to do at least once a day.
How do you do it?
The cobra made with folded arms is sometimes called a Baby Cobra. If we straighten our arms, we will be doing the full version. It is advised not to be in a hurry to advance. The proper technique to do this yoga pose is:
- Lie face down. Spread your feet and legs hip-width apart. Point your toes out so that the tops of your feet are on the ground.
- Bend your elbows and place your hands on the floor next to your ribs, stacking your wrist and elbow.
- On an inhale, begin to lift your chest off the ground, lifting it into spinal extension.
- Keep your neck neutral. Don’t stress it. The gaze must remain on the ground.
There are also two different types of charges, depending on the physical capacity you have:
- Low or Baby Cobra: Keep your belly low on the ground and your elbows bent. Look forward or down. If your lower back or neck hurts, stay there.
- Complete: continue pressing the arms to the right, without locking the elbows, until the belly is completely separated from the ground and we are supported by the pubic bone. Look forward to help keep your neck long.
Muscles worked and stretched
In many yoga poses, when one side of the body is lengthened, the opposite side is strengthened. Generally, backbends tend to stretch the muscles in the front of the body while toning the back muscles.
The muscles stretched in Cobra pose are:
- Upper feet or ankle dorsiflexers
- Hip flexors
- Biceps and brachialis
- Cervical flexors in the front of the neck
Muscles involved in the cobra pose are:
- Gluteus maximus (although we recommend not tightening the buttocks, as this can cause compression of the lower back)
- Spinal extensors, particularly the erector spinae
- Muscles of the upper back, such as the rhomboids and the middle trapezius
Advantages of doing the cobra pose
As the cobra pose is performed in a series of asanas, there is very little research on it treated as a single exercise. Many of the benefits listed below are related not only to the cobra pose, but to a yoga practice that includes this pose.
Reduces symptoms of depression
Studies have found a statistically significant improvement in symptoms in people experiencing mild to moderate depression after participating in an 8-week Hatha yoga program that included cobra practice twice a week.
In general, science suggests that sustained or prolonged yoga practice helps improve depressive symptoms. The cobra pose has been specifically associated with the sensation of lift due to the lengthening involved in the pose.
Relieves lower back pain
Science also looked at the effect of yoga on low back pain and found a statistically significant improvement in symptoms. One such study showed that practicing yoga, including the cobra pose, for 12 weeks helped improve self-reported low back pain and anxiety that accompanies chronic pain.
The accessibility of the pose can become a cost-effective alternative or complementary treatment to physical therapy. However, there is not a very significant change in the vertebrae.
Many people practice yoga to reduce stress and anxiety, but studies also show a significant improvement in self-esteem. This can be true even from a young age, as there are studies that find a significant improvement in self-esteem in school-age children after they practice yoga on a daily basis.
Yoga can be particularly helpful for teens. In general, they experience higher levels of depression and loneliness, probably due to increased use of social media, all of which affect self-esteem.
May reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a common effect of chronic diseases such as cancer and various arthritic disorders. In a study with breast cancer survivors, they showed significant improvement in inflammation after attending a 90-minute yoga class, which included the cobra pose, twice a week for 12 weeks.
Also, rheumatoid arthritis people found significant improvements in inflammation and other symptoms after participants practiced yoga, including the cobra pose.
Although push-ups are anecdotally considered energizing poses , numerous studies have found that people experienced improvements in sleep quality after performing them. Especially those who did the cobra pose on a daily basis.
Studies have found that it can improve sleep for women with type 2 diabetes and menopausal women. So it is worth trying this move on a regular basis.
Since many of us sit down to work every day and then look at phones or other devices at night, posture is often affected.
Regular practice of spinal extension exercises like cobra pose can help counteract problems like forward head posture or drooping shoulders. By doing this back bend, we will be realigning the healthy body posture.
Tips for the cobra pose
Although the cobra pose is technically considered a back “bend”, the goal is not to bend the back in half like a letter, but to create a long, even arc. The column is a series of curves. Two parts, the neck (cervical spine) and the lower back (lumbar spine), which naturally arch toward the front of the body. This is called a lordotic curve.
In a typical spine, these portions tend to be quite mobile in the direction of back flexion or extension. As you enter cobra pose, be sure to lengthen your neck and lower back . This will not only protect those vulnerable areas from a bow, but it can also help us bend further back.
Other recommendations to do this yoga pose properly are:
- Make sure the tops of your feet are on the ground and your ankles are straight.
- Raise on the inhale and lower on the exhale.
- If the lower back is tender or we have neck pain, it is better to adopt the position of the low cobra (baby cobra).
- Activating the abdomen can help protect the lower back.
- It is advisable to do a push and pull effect with your hands rather than just pushing down. As this can cause the trapezius to wrinkle and compress the neck.
- You have to keep your gaze straight ahead, or even down, to stimulate neck lengthening.
- The cobra pose should not be performed if we have carpal tunnel syndrome or an injury to the back, arms, or shoulders. In addition, it is recommended to avoid it if we have undergone abdominal surgery or if you are pregnant .