Yoga Pose May: Cobra
May 9, 2010 § 5 Comments
Hi everyone! Tina and Kate had the brilliant idea of Yoga Pose May where they assigned bloggers a specific pose for each day of May! Mine is the Cobra pose, and I realized this is sort of late, but I was on a flight from Los Angeles to Taipei Taiwan. Right now it is Monday, 8:35am in Taiwan, equivalent to Sunday 5:35pm in Los Angeles. I’ve been doing yoga for four years now, so Cobra pose is no stranger to me :-). It is very similar to Upward-facing dog, but the back does not stretch as far. So, without further ado, here you go!
Cobra Pose || Bhujangasana
bhujanga = serpent
(bhuja = arm or shoulder; anga = limb)
Classification and Level: A basic prone backbending pose
Like many backbends, Cobra pose helps open the heart and gently releases held emotions within the rib cage, allowing flow of greater joy into the body. Cobra pose is sometimes referred to as a baby backbend. But one must know that therapeutic effects of backbends do not necessarily reap from the deepest arches. Cobra pose sets the foundation of deeper backbends by first allowing awareness to working your legs, pelvis, and belly. When done correctly, your legs naturally provide powder, strength, and support for your spine to gracefully extend, while your pelvis and belly act together to decompress and support your lower back to prevent overarching.
In this pose, the hamstrings extend the hips and maintain adduction and internal rotation without externally rotating the legs. The forearms should stay parallel to each other for the best alignment of action through the arms into the spine.
Note: Cobra pose is NOT the same as Upward-Facing Dog
(I had to take it with self-timer since there was nobody around at the time to help) By the way, this is also taken in my home in TAIWAN!!!
Step-by-step: (directly from Yoga Journal)
- Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back into your body.
- Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor.
- On an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection through your pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don’t harden the buttocks.
- Firm the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the entire spine.
- Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to the floor with an exhalation.
Variation: (directly from Yoga Anatomy)
The hamstrings are used for hip extension and knee flexion. This position of the leg puts the hamstrings at a very short working length, which greatly increases the chances of cramping in the muscles. This position also makes it more likely that the outer fibers of the gluteus maximus will fire to help with the hip extension, which will also externally rotate and abduct the legs. Often, a student who can keep the legs adducted and parallel when the knees are extended will find it much more challenging when the knees are flexed. In this position, all of the quadriceps are lengthened, and the stretch in the rectus femoris can restrict the range of motion in knee flexion too.
Again, sorry for the awful blur and misalignment of the camera. I took about a dozen pictures trying to get the best angle.
Sources: Yoga Journal, Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff
Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Sunday (or Monday, for me)!