Bhujangasana | Cobra Pose

Bhujangasana - Thumbnail

If you have come across our detailed post on Sun Salutation (also known as Surya Namaskar), one of the most renowned and powerful morning yoga routines, you must be familiar with Bhujangasana. 

It is the seventh posture of the Surya Namaskar yoga sequence. 

Bhujangasana is also called as ‘Cobra Pose’ as the pose resembles the posture of Cobra forming the hood.

Cobra pose is a basic hatha yoga pose that involves back bending.


Basics of Bhujangasana

Basics of Bhujangasana

Pronunciation: 

Meaning: Bhujangasana is derived from the Sanskrit word भुजङ्ग (bhujaṅga) meaning ‘Snake’ (specifically, a cobra) and आसन (āsana) meaning ‘Posture’ or ‘Seat’.

Hence, by direct translation, Bhujangasana, by itself means Cobra Pose.

Branch of yoga: Hatha yoga

Type: Back-bend

Starting Position: Prone (lying down flat on the stomach)

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Muscles Worked:

  • Strengthens: Entire spine and Gluteal Muscles
  • Stretches: Abdomen, Chest, Thorax, Lungs and Shoulder
  • Contracts: Dorsal muscles in the Lumbar region of the spine

Chakras Worked:

  • Vishuddhi Chakra (Throat Chakra)
  • Anahata Chakra (Heart Chakra)
  • Manipura Chakra (Solar Plexus)
  • Swadisthana Chakra (Sacral Chakra)
  • Muladhara Chakra (Root Chakra)

The maximum duration for holding the posture: 5 minutes

Repetitions: None


Things to do before practising Bhujangasana

Front View of Bhujangasana

Morning, during the sunrise, is the best period of time to practice any yoga asana.

In case, if it is not a possibility, then you can practice in the evenings.

In either case, you must make sure that you are in an empty stomach

As Bhujangasana involves stretching your abdominal muscles, you should have ample room for its expansion. 

Having it filled with meals limits this expansion.

Therefore, make it a point to provide a convenient time span of four to six hours between having your meals and performing the yoga pose.


Precautions and Contraindications

Back View of Bhujangasana

Before moving on to the steps to perform Bhujangasana, it is our responsibility to let you know that some bodily issues and discomforts can force you to refrain from practising the cobra pose.

So having said that, if you are the one who suffers from the below-mentioned problems, kindly avoid training the asana.

  • A person who had back problems related to the spine and the lower back
  • A person with hip injury or any issues related to hips
  • A person with neck problems related to Spondylitis
  • A person who underwent any recent abdominal surgery or have any other stomach related disorders like ulcers
  • A person suffering from Asthma or breathing issues
  • A person with Carpal tunnel syndrome where your hand and arm pain, become numb or tend to get itchy
  • A person who suffers from frequent headaches
  • A pregnant woman - If you are carrying a child, please avoid this asana as it will put more pressure on your lower abdomen

Tips for Beginners

Left Side View of Bhujangasana

If you are a newbie, just practice the cobra pose suiting your body’s current flexibility level.

Don’t overdo the bend. If you do so in the initial stages, you will be straining your back. 

The best way is to start by just raising a few inches off the yoga mat today. 

As your spine gets habituated to the bend and becomes slightly more flexible, you can increase the intensity of the back-bend in stages.

In a few days, you will be able to achieve the full back-bend required for the perfect Bhujangasana posture.


How to do Bhujangasana | Cobra Pose

Right Side View of Bhujangasana

Getting ready for Bhujangasana

  • Start off by lying flat on your stomach on the floor with your forehead in contact with the floor.
  • Now take your hands and place them under your shoulders. In this position, your fingers are spread and palms pressed against the floor while your legs extend behind to its full length and the toes along with other fingers are pressed against the floor.

Performing Bhujangasana

  • Press the palms on the floor and lift your head and chest off the floor as you inhale. Every part of your body above your naval point is off the ground here.
  • With your arms bent at the elbow and not perfectly straight, press your hips, thighs and feet to the ground.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds and continue to breathe normally.

Releasing the posture

  • After holding the Bhujangasana position for a few seconds, exhale slowly and lower your chin and your upper body till the forehead comes in contact with the floor.
  • Now, take your hands, fold it and place it below your head. Let your head rest on one side.
  • Relax by breathing normally.

You can also follow-up Bhujangasa with Child’s Pose as a gentle counter yoga asana.

Download the Instructions as Audio:


Video of Bhujangasana


Common mistakes to avoid

1. Incorrect position of the Hands

This is a very common incorrect hand position in Bhujangasana.

Hands placement is important in Bhujangasana although this move is independent of the arm muscles.

The correct hand position is perfectly under your shoulders besides your chest.

This is the perfect hand position in Bhujangasana as your hands are slightly bent at the elbows and elbows are pointing backside.

2. Locking the elbows

Locking your elbows up will push your shoulders up which is not the correct way to perform Bhujangasana.

This is an incorrect elbow position in Bhujangasana as it is stiff and locked.

So, let the elbows be free and unlocked. You can also bend it to point backwards and not on your sides.

This is a perfect elbow position in Bhujangasana where it is free and unlocked.

3. Crunching the lower back

Your lower back is, in fact, more flexible than your upper back.

Therefore, it tends to bend easily while performing back-bend. 

As a result, you will experience more bend in that region than your upper back and more strain.

To avoid this, aim at performing the bend evenly throughout your complete back area.

4. Squeezing-in the Neck

A perfect Bhujangasana requires you to bend your neck backwards. 

Sometimes, it is natural to overdo it which is not advisable.

Squeezing-in the next is wrong in Bhujangasana.

So to avoid it, make sure your neck bends back only to that extent that it is in line of the natural extension of your upper spine.

The correct neck position in Bhujangasana is the one where you neck is in the curvature line of your back.

5. Wrong feet position

Keeping your feet clustered together prevents your outer thigh coming in contact with the floor. 

This way of clasping the two feet together is an incorrect feet position in Bhujangasana.

While placing your feet far away from each other will limit the back-bend.

The ideal feet position is hip-width apart so that your outer thigh is in contact with the floor and still able to perform the cobra pose efficiently.

Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart is the correct feet position in Bhujangasana.

6. Clasping the Buttocks tightly

This is yet another common mistake while performing Bhujangasana.

Although it comes to us naturally to buckle the buttocks as we do back-bend, it is incorrect in actual practice.

Buckling the buttocks as we do Back-bend is incorrect.

Keeping your outer knees to stay in contact with the floor will take care of this mistake as there will be no room for you to clench your butt.

This is the correct Buttocks position in Bhujangasana.

Variations of Bhujangasana

Having learnt the perfect steps to practice Bhujangasana here are a few variations to the actual asana.

Variation 1: Increasing the spread

This is one variation of Bhujangasana where you increase the spread of your whole body.

In Bhujangansa, your hands are under your shoulders besides your chest.

In this variation though, we will bring the hands forward to the sides of the head.

How to do:

  • Take the starting position of Bhujangasana except for this time your hands are to the sides of your head.
  • Lift your head off the ground with other parts still in contact with the floor.
  • Make sure that your big toe is separated away from the rest of the fingers in this variation. Keep your outer knee touching the floor which will take care of your back and keep your buttocks down.
  • Despite the nature of Bhujangasana, allow the paraspinal muscles (muscles on the sides of the spine) to not come in.
  • From this position, press your palms and lift your forearms up with your elbows straight behind and not extended outwards.

If you are a woman with weak arms, just do this much for a few days and you will gain strength in your arms.

  • Hold this position for a few seconds to let the arms get its strength.
  • Now, keeping your buttocks down lift your pelvis, chest and neck in the order to straighten your arms. Keep your head straight to look forward.
  • From this position, push your upper thighs forward and complete the full lift.
  • Hold on to this position as long as possible before coming back to the starting position.

Variation 2: Taking the weight off of the hands

This is another Variation of Bhujangasana where you take the weight off of your hands.

This variation of Bhujangasana pushes the difficulty of the conventional cobra yoga posture to the next level.

How to do:

Start off with the standard Bhujangasana steps starting from step 1 to step 5.

In this position, take your palms off and hover it above the floor. 

Try to hold on to the posture of Bhujangasana for a few seconds before coming back to the starting position.


Preparatory Poses

  • Urdhva Mukha Shvanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose)
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)

Follow-up Poses

  • Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
  • Dhanurasana (Urdva Chakrasana, Bow pose)
  • Ustrasana (Ushtrasana, Camel pose)
  • Matsyasana (Fish pose)
  • All other back-bends

Benefits of Bhujangasana

Benefits of Cobra Pose

1. Eases back pain

Bhujangasana is an ideal yoga pose for a healthier spine which contributes to the back pain relief.

It pacifies the entire spinal region by stretching it mindfully while loosening the muscles surrounding the vertebral column at the same time.

Developing these deep core support also strengthens the back.

2. Relieves asthma

As we have seen in the introduction portion, the cobra pose expands the chest and stretches the lungs.

This directly contributes to the lungs' internal region expansion. 

As a consequence, any chances of asthmatic attacks or respiratory congestion is completely alleviated.

3. Cures Sciatic pain

Sciatic pain is agonizing at times. 

Bhujangasana is a perfect solution to your sciatic pain as it not only relieves the excruciating pain but also helps get rid of it completely upon regular practice.

4. Manages Anxiety and Stress

Lifting the chest in this pose opens the heart. 

This helps in ditching any negative feelings or frustrations accumulated over time to reduce stress and handle anxiety.

5. Activates Digestive and Urinary System

Bhujangasana is practised by lying flat on the stomach. 

This offers a gentle soothing massage to the digestive tract.

And as you perform the back-bend, it stretches the front upper body from the hips which ensure the correct working of the abdominal organs. 

The back-bend also compresses the lower back to rejuvenate the kidneys. 

Both these result in an enhanced gastrointestinal functioning establishing an efficient digestive system and urinary system.

6. Tones the Butt

Bhujangasana strengthens the gluteal muscles which help you tone your butt to make it firm and shapely. 

Not just your buttocks, the asana also tones the organs in the lower abdomen.

7. Boosts the circulation of blood

Performing Bhujangasana expands your lungs which results in more oxygenation within the body especially through the spinal and pelvic regions.

8. Improves Flexibility and Maintains Posture

As you arch your back in Bhujangasana, you provide good quality stretch to your spine. 

This strengthens the spinal column which enhances flexibility. 

A flexible body guarantees perfect postures.

9. Boosts Mood

Are you feeling the blues even after accomplishing the daily goals?

If your answer is yes, start practising Bhujangasana right now.

This is why it is one of my very favourite yoga postures. 

After relieving the stress and anxiety, what is left within you? Nothing but, A pure positive mood!

10. Improves Menstrual Irregularities

Yes, Bhujangasana is an excellent yoga posture for women with menstrual irregularities.

With regular practice, not just the menstrual problems, any other troubles related to uterus and ovaries are also eliminated. 

In addition to this, if you are regular with Bhujangasana, it makes your childbirth easy. 

But VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE - Don’t practice this asana during the pregnancy period.

11. Awakens the Kundalini

In Hinduism, Kundalini is a form of divine energy that is supposed to be located at the base of the spine.

Bhujangasana is all about the spine. 

Hence, practising the cobra pose regularly helps awaken the Kundalini. 

Once this is achieved, you gain too many other benefits related to it including self-realization, enhancement in your creativity levels, attain inner peace and achieve spiritual enlightenment.

With this, your body gains more strength and other problems related to the kidney, stomach and liver.

12. Balances the Seven Chakras

A revived Kundalini means a perfect balance of seven chakras.

This lets your body open to bigger transformations with regards to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.


Science behind Bhujangasana

The Science behind Bhujangasana

In Bhujangasana, the concentration is first centred on Vishuddhi chakra (Throat chakra).

As the spine gains the full strength upon disciplined and dedicated practice, the focus shifts to Manipura chakra (Solar Plexus Chakra).

As we raise the head backwards during Bhujangasana practice, the focus on the centre of the eyebrows happens naturally. 

This affects the Ajna chakra (Third Eye Chakra) and awakens intuition.

Bhujangasana also influences the Anahata chakra (Heart Chakra) directly as the main area in play while practising the asana is the central position in the dorsal region of the back.

If the Anahata chakra is opened and controlled, it gives space for more acceptance, love and compassion.

Going further, in Bhujangasana, your abdomen stays in contact with the floor providing support and strength to the whole pose.

This, therefore, excites your Manipura chakra to promote physical and digestive fire. 

This associate with the snake’s (cobra’s) ability to swallow prey that is way bigger in size and any shape and digest them with ease.

As the Bhujangasana posture develops the focus reaches Muladhara chakra (Root Chakra) through Swadhisthana chakra (Sacral Chakra). 

At this point, all the focus is now concentrated in the Muladhara chakra.

When you release the Bhujangasana pose and relax the spine, the energy is forced back up the spine.

This is how the Kundalini is ignited. (Source)


The Bottom Line

Thanks for our so-called ‘Modern lifestyle’ that we forgot to bend our backs.

And the outcome - a weak spine that pains even on a slight bend and a hunchbacked look at a very young age.

If you realize it sooner and practice Bhujangasana, you can rectify it at the earlier stages. 

Enjoy this heart-opening yoga posture as you do and take the pleasure of a flexible spine in the near future.

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