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Bhujangasana: Unleash the Serpent

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

bhujangasana
English Name(s)
Cobra Pose
Sanskrit
भुजङ्गासन / Bhujaṅgāsana
Pronunciation
boo-jang-GAHS-suh-nuh
Meaning
bhujanga: “snake/serpent”
āsana: “posture”

Bhujangasana at a Glance

The Bhujangasana or Cobra pose is a pose that comes in the sequence during Surya Namaskar as a back bend pose. Cobra pose is one of the best parts of Hatha yoga. This is good for your spine, shoulder, and abdomen, toning your lower belly and digestive health.

Benefits:

  • Blood circulation is improved.
  • Massages and tones the abdomen and keeps your reproductive organs healthy.
  • It helps to strengthen your whole back and improves the flexibility.
  • It reduces stress from your shoulder and neck.
  • Tones your buttocks and inner thighs.

Who can do it?

Beginners can do this yoga pose for people with mild back pain, to improve their posture, to work on their core strength, and people seek good stress relief remedies.

Who should not do it?

People with severe back injuries, wrist or shoulder injuries, recent abdominal surgery, neck problems, high blood pressure, and any severe abdominal issues. People with Carpal tunnel syndrome should avoid this yoga pose without consulting their healthcare professional. Pregnant women should avoid doing it.

How to Do Bhujangasana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

Bhujangasana yoga pose is one of the yoga poses from the Sun-salutation. This is beginner-friendly and can yield a lot of benefits.

  1. Always begin with warm-ups or preparatory poses to keep you away from any injury.
  2. Lie on your belly, in a prone position on a flat and soft surface or the yoga mat, keep your hands in front of you, and place your forehead on your hands and shoulders relaxed.
  3. Keep both your legs straight and your feet joined. Keep the toes pointing outward. Top your feet should be pressed to the mat, heels pointing upwards and thighs pressing the ground.
  4. Keep your palm in line with the shoulders; your fingers should be kept wide, grounded firmly to the ground and your fingers should be pointed forward.
  5. You should bend your arms, your elbows pointing to your legs and your elbows should not be too far from your body.
  6. Inhale deeply, giving pressure with the palms towards the ground, and lift your chest slowly. Let your pelvic area and lower abdomen touch the ground.
  7. Think about the cobra snake; you will get a picture of how it lifts its upper body, called the Cobra pose.
  8. Create a gentle arch in the spine to gently bring your head a bit backward.
  9. Don’t force yourself with the spine arch or the head. Keep it gentle and avoid straining your neck. Look slightly upward and forward.
  10. Keep breathing and hold the pose for about 20 to 30 seconds with your comfort.
  11. Feel the stretch in every part of your body and then prepare to return.
  12. While coming out of the pose, first exhale, lower your chest slowly, bring your forehead to the mat, and relax.

Consistent practice can help strengthen the spine and improve flexibility and your digestion process.

What are the Benefits of Bhujangasana?

  • This powerful asana activates the Manipura Chakra, stimulating the abdominal organs to perform better.
  • Cobra pose helps with mild backache; it strengthens your lower back muscles and makes them flexible.
  • It helps to activate the digestive system, easing digestion issues and reducing constipation.
  • Cobra pose helps the lungs perform better, improves oxygen supply to your body, and helps with deep breathing.
  • Practicing the Cobra pose regularly helps open your chest and provide flexibility to your shoulder muscles, neck, and spine. Stretches and strengthens your whole upper and lower back.
  • The Cobra Pose works best for your arms.
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra pose) works on your abdominal muscles by toning and strengthening them.
  • As this pose stretches your back nerves, it is good for people with sciatica pain and reduces the pain if you do it regularly.
  • Like many other yoga poses, Bhujangasana is also one of the stress relievers.
  • Cobra pose activates your inner strength and confidence. When you lift your chest, it is filled with a lot of energy.
  • I can help a female with their menstrual cramps and mild pain.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Bhujangasana

Helps to Reduce Belly Fat

Regular practice of the Cobra pose stretches your lower abdomen, which helps to target and reduce belly fat and burn extra calories. It also reduces the extra fat in the buttock area and tones it.

Digestive Issues

Consistent practice of Cobra pose improves blood circulation, which helps the digestive organs to function better, keeps your bloating gas and indigestion issues away and helps with better absorption of food.

Flexibility Enhancement

If you have stiffness, practicing Bhujangasana should be an excellent remedy to help your muscles be more flexible, mainly the shoulders and neck. It also helps with the lower and upper back.

Menstrual Issues

For some women, the menstrual cycle could be a real stress due to cramps and pain. To ease a bit, you can practice the cobra pose to make your cycle regular and help with the cramps and pain. Overall, it benefits your reproductive health.

Strengthens your Reproductive System

Regular practice of Bhujangasana can help improve your hormonal balance and reproductive health. This pose improves blood circulation to the uterus and ovaries and detoxifies the body.

Copes with Mild Stress (Mental Health) and Depression

Making a Cobra pose part of your yoga sequence can help with stress, depression, and body fatigue. This would calm your mind and body, relaxing your nervous system.

Safety and Precautions

  • Cobra pose should be performed in the mornings before food or four to five hours after the meal, as this involves your abdomen.
  • Always do a warm-up, preparatory exercise, or asanas to loosen your body parts like back, thighs, arms, wrist, and shoulder blades.
  • Always do a relaxing pose, like a Crocodile pose.
  • Avoid doing a Cobra pose or consult the yoga teacher if you have abdominal issues.
  • Yoga poses1 should never be done on the hard surface. Do it on a soft surface or use a yoga mat.
  • Any surgery done to any internal organs should be avoided or consult their doctors before starting to do this pose.
  • Beginners should do it under the guidance of the yoga teacher. Just do only a few rounds in the starting to activate your back muscles.

Common Mistakes

  • Straight away starting the cobra pose (Bhujangasana) can hurt you, so always go for a warm-up or any simple preparatory poses to relax and loosen your muscles.
  • Don’t raise your hips too high. Keep it to the mat, or you may hurt your lower back.
  • Don’t force yourself to lift your chest too much.
  • Don’t overextend your neck backward too much.
  • Don’t just use your arms to lift your chest. Use your back muscles too.
  • Shoulder blades should be relaxed. Don’t make it stiff or shrug it.
  • Breathing is important so keep breathing throughout to feel the effect of the pose. Avoid holding your breath or you may feel uncomfortable.

Tips for Bhujangasana

  • Always start with a warm-up.
  • Make a note that your alignments are proper.
  • Your core should be engaged and not bring all the weight to the lower abdomen. This would make your breathing difficult.
  • Always start slowly and progress step by step.
  • Practice consistently to get the benefits out of it.
  • After completion, follow up with a relaxing pose, like a child’s, crocodile, or Savasana pose.

The Physical Alignment Principles for Bhujangasana

  • Physical alignments are very important for any yoga postures to make it effective and it’s the same for Bhujangasana or Cobra pose.
  • Be in the prone pose, legs straight and feet should touch each other.
  • Palms should be on the mat, under the shoulder, and close to your upper abdomen, fingers wide and pointing in the front.
  • Keep your legs close to each other (inner thighs touching each other) and the upper part of the feet should be touching the yoga mat. Toes pointing outward.
  • Feel your pubic bone touching the floor.
  • Keep your core engaged.
  • Distribute your body weight evenly.
  • Slightly bend the elbows and point backward and not on the outside.
  • While pressing your chest forward, don’t only use your arms. Use your back muscles also.
  • Avoid shrugging your shoulders. Release the tension in your neck and shoulders.
  • Your upper spine should be naturally extended without training it. Keep your back and neck long.
  • Note that you look slightly upward or forward.
  • Maintain your breath with your alignment.
  • Be mindful of the alignment of the pose.

Bhujangasana and Breath

In the Cobra pose, Bhujangasana breath is important in stretching your back and lower back (entire upper body) and opening up your chest. Breathing in this pose becomes easy if you distribute your weight evenly and only on the abdomen. In this pose, breath keeps the flow of energy and the pose, and as you inhale, you rise, exhale, and bow down. Your breath should be natural, and don’t force it.

At last, when you come out of the pose, you breathe out and come down, placing your forehead on the floor. Relax in the Makarasana pose with gentle breaths.

Bhujangasana and Variations

Beginners can use some props to support and maintain the proper alignment.

Low Cobra Pose

Lie on your belly with your forehead on the floor, legs extended, and hands on the mat. Lift your chest just a few inches up. This is a simple variation for beginners.

Baby Cobra Pose

This is a simple variation. Instead of lifting the chest, lift your upper body, lengthen your spine, and look forward.

Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx pose)

Lie on your tummy and keep your forearms on the floor and the palm facing the mat. Gently bend your upper body. The sphinx pose is a preparatory pose.

Upward-Facing Dog

This is a bit of an advanced pose. In this pose, only your palms and feet touch the floor. Here, you engage your core, and your arms are straight.

Bhujangasana (Cobra pose) with Blocks and Cushions

This is for beginners to get more support initially. You can keep the blocks under your shoulders and cushions under the thighs for better support.

Bhujangasana with the Twist

After the cobra pose, you inhale and twist your upper back to the right. Your shoulder blades should be relaxed, bringing your right hand touching your right thigh or knee. Do it on the other side, too. This gives a deep stretch to your spine.

Bhujangasana Beginner’s Variation

Beginners can use props to support and maintain the proper alignment of the Cobra pose Bhujangasana. Advanced variations need more strength and flexibility, so people already practicing this pose can go for advanced variations under the guidance of a yoga teacher.

Take Away

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), part of hatha yoga, is about awakening your inner strength and confidence. It’s like lifting your chest proudly and being confident on your path.

Bhujangasana is a beginner’s pose with various physical and mental benefits. In the prone pose, you lift your chest slowly, strengthening your back, and your lower back stretches your shoulders and thighs. It stretches your abdominal muscles and gives a good massage, which helps with digestive organs.

Bhujangasana increases the lung capacity, which encourages deep breathing and better oxygen supply to your body, so it calms both your body and mind. It is great for your pelvis and core, giving good stretch and strengthening. It helps to lose your lower abdomen fat and tones it.

This pose activates your Manipura chakra, which enhances your self-confidence and inner strength. You can gradually reap good benefits by practicing pose under the guidance of a yoga teacher with proper alignment, coordination of breath, and keeping your physical limits in consideration.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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