Cobra Pose is a bomb back-bending yoga asana. It’s the perfect pose to slither 🐍 into when you’re looking to find a little more flexibility in your life. Here’s how it’s done and why it might just be your new fave move.
What is Cobra Pose?
Cobra Pose (aka Bhujangasana) is a prone back-bending yoga pose. It’s a great asana for increasing flexibility and strength in your back, arms, and shoulders. When it’s paired with a regular yoga practice, it may also:
- improve depression symptoms
- relieve back pain
- increase self-esteem
- reduce inflammation
- improve sleep quality
- enhance posture
We’re breaking down Cobra Pose step-by-step.
- Start by lying flat on your stomach.
- Point your toes behind you and place your hands under your shoulders.
- Keep your elbows close to your ribs.
- Inhale and press your palms into the floor as you lift your chest off the ground.
- Slightly bend your elbows and hug them into your sides.
- Pull your belly in and roll your shoulders down and back.
- Keep your neck neutral and gaze upward.
- Exhale and return to start.
Here are some pro tips to keep your Cobra Pose form on fleek.
- Don’t lift your hips off the ground as your chest rises.
- Focus on using your back muscles (not your arms) to lift your torso.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent and avoid locking them as you reach the top of the pose.
- Point your feet straight back, push your heels toward the sky.
- Don’t clench your butt. This can compress your lower back and can mess up your alignment.
Cobra poses lots of potential perks for your mind and bod. Here are the deets.
May improve depression symptoms
Yoga isn’t a mental health cure-all. But a long-term yoga practice does have some proven mental health perks. One small study had peeps complete a Hatha yoga program that included Cobra Pose twice a week. After 8 weeks, participants had improved mild to moderate depression symptoms.
Bonus: Older 2013 research linked Cobra Pose itself to uplifting, fuzzy feelings. Woot!
Might relieve back pain
Cobra Pose might help relieve chronic back pain. It’s a fab counteraction stretch for your spine and chest. It can help take pressure off the lower back and encourages better spinal alignment. Another small study found that practicing yoga for 12 weeks helped improve lower back pain. Participants also noted lower pain-related anxiety. Yay!
PSA: Cobra Pose can do more harm than good if you experience back pain or an injury. So, don’t push past your limits or workout if you currently have an injury.
Could increase self-esteem
Yoga might boost confidence in adults and kiddos alike. One study found that a daily yoga practice helped increase self-esteem in school-age children. Another recent study found that yoga helped improve emotional regulation in adolescents compared to the participants who didn’t do yoga.
May reduce inflammation
Cobra pose may help combat chronic inflammation. (That’s a common symptom in folks who have autoimmune conditions like arthritis. One small study found that practicing yoga 5 times a week for 8 weeks helped greatly reduce inflammation in folks with rheumatoid arthritis.
There’s also a chance Cobra Pose can reduce inflammation in folks with cancer. A 2014 study has 200 breast cancer survivors attend a 90-minute yoga class twice a week. After 12 weeks, the participants showed significant improvements in their inflammation.
Might improve sleep quality
A regular Cobra Pose practice might help you get better shut-eye. A small study found that yoga helped improve sleep quality in women with type 2 diabetes. It actually worked even better than aerobics. Another 2014 study found that 18 weeks of consistent yoga helped people with menopause get sleep.
P.S. Both of these studies included Cobra Pose itself.
Could enhance posture
Cobra Pose is a great way to counteract the effects of slouching and slumping your shoulders. It stretches the spine and can help strengthen the muscles that support your head and neck. All of this may lead to better posture.
If full Cobra Pose is too intense, don’t worry! A minor modification can make your practice a lot more comfortable. Here are some tips to make it work for you.
- Use a prop. Place a folded blanket or towel under your hips or wrists for extra support.
- Place your forearms on the floor. This puts less pressure on your palms and will help you control your movement better. That way you can focus more on keeping your spine aligned. (This position’s also called Sphinx Pose.)
- Start in a plank position. For a more intense stretch, kick off your Cobra Pose from a plank position. (This prob isn’t a great idea if you have back pain or an injury.)
Cobra Pose can be a beginner-friendly asana (especially with modifications). But there are still some things to keep in mind before you get started.
- Keep your neck neutral and your gaze directed at the floor. This can help you avoid overextending the tendons and muscles in your neck and shoulders.
- Use your back muscles to lift your torso off the ground. Putting too much pressure on your hands and wrists can increase of a strain or sprain.
- Your feet should be at least hip-width apart. This puts less pressure on your lower back.
- Don’t push past your limits. It’s totally OK to do a modified version of Cobra Pose if that’s easier for you.
- Avoid putting too much pressure on one area of your back. Instead, try to evenly distribute the stretch across your spine.
Cobra Pose is a top-notch backstretch that offers some pretty impressive health benefits. Studies show it may help improve depression symptoms, could relieve back pain, and might increase self-esteem. There’s also a chance it can reduce inflammation, improve sleep quality, and enhance posture.
Just keep in mind, Cobra Pose is a deep back bend. Be sure you keep your form on fleek to reduce your risk of injury. Use a modification or a prop to keep things safe.