Cobra Pose
by Jennifer Arnold

bhujanga= serpent
asana = pose, posture

instructions:
1. Lie flat on your belly with your legs stretched out long, your toes pointing back, and your forehead on your mat.

2. Let your big toes come together slightly more than your heels. Place your palms on the ground beside your upper ribs. Bring strength into your legs by actively reaching them toward the wall behind you and at the same time keeping them pressing into the ground. Feel as though your tailbone is stretching toward your heels.

3. As you inhale, press your palms down, imagine you are dragging the hands toward you, and begin to peel your chest off of the ground.

4. Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears and your shoulder blades drawing down your back. As your chest lifts, feel as if your shoulder blades are moving into the back of your heart, opening the chest a bit more.

5. Keep your eyes soft and your gaze relaxed as you look at the wall in front of you. Hold for 3 – 5 breaths and with an exhalation, release.

tips:
1. Sometimes people will straighten their arms too quickly, taking the pose too deeply. This can bring strain into the low back. It is perfectly fine to keep the elbows bent. Straightening the arms can also lift the pelvis off the ground. In this pose the pubic bone is meant to stay on the ground. While keeping the arms bent, try to get the movement in the mid to upper back.

2. This pose is often practiced first in a series of backbends. It can be confused with a deeper backbend called Upward Facing Dog, where the pelvis and legs are lifted off the ground and the only connection to the ground is in the palms and tops of the feet. While both are valid and beneficial poses, Cobra Pose allows movement in the upper back with a bit more ease.

benefits:
Strengthens spinal muscles; stretches the abdomen and chest; increases flexibility in thoracic and lumbar spine; with regular and safe practice, helps to alleviate low back pain.