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
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
Starting Position: Prone (lying down flat on the stomach)
Difficulty Level: Beginner
The maximum duration for holding the posture: 5 minutes
Things to do before practising 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
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.
Tips for Beginners
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
Getting ready for Bhujangasana
Releasing the posture
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
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.
2. Locking the elbows
Locking your elbows up will push your shoulders up which is not the correct way to perform Bhujangasana.
So, let the elbows be free and unlocked. You can also bend it to point backwards and not on your sides.
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.
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.
5. Wrong feet position
Keeping your feet clustered together prevents your outer thigh coming in contact with the floor.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
If you are a woman with weak arms, just do this much for a few days and you will gain strength in your arms.
Variation 2: Taking the weight off of the 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.
Benefits of Bhujangasana
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
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.