How to Practice Cobra Pose 

Cobra pose, also known as Upavistha Konasana, is the preparatory pose for a number of asanas, and is a popular pose in yoga. It is a seated forward bend (Padmasana) in which the legs are tucked back behind the pelvis and the buttocks are drawn up and back. The practitioner sits with the legs folded forward in a way that the soles of the feet point upwards and slightly outward. The back of the neck is drawn into the chest, the chin is drawn in towards the chest, the hands are placed on the floor close to the feet, the arms are stretched out from the sides, and the forehead and the back of the neck are kept relaxed.

“Cobra pose” is a Sanskrit word that describes a yoga asana wherein you sit on your heels, then cross your arms behind your knees and use your arms to support your body weight. The asana is said to improve your balance, and it’s a popular move you see in many yoga poses. It can also be used to strengthen the abdomen, the thighs and the lower back.

Cobra Pose is one of the most difficult poses in Ashtanga yoga. It’s a deep backbend that requires a very long hold, and is best reserved for advanced students. To find out how to do it correctly, follow the steps below.. Read more about cobra pose benefits and let us know what you think.

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If you’ve done Vinyasa yoga or Sun Salutations, Cobra position is a pose you’re probably already acquainted with. Cobra is a great chest opener and back strengthener. When done properly and with correct alignment, it may feel wonderful in your body. 

Yogi practicing Cobra pose

Animals are often used to name yoga poses. The form of this backbend is similar to that of a snake arching upward. If you’re doing a reduced or milder vinyasa flow, Cobra position is a good alternative to Upward Facing Dog, which has a deeper and more active backside.

 

Cobra Pose’s Advantages 

Cobra posture is typically done during the backhanding phase of practice or during Sun Salutations. Because it opens up the chest, shoulders, and front of your upper body, it’s called a heart-opening position. The advantages of practicing heart openers like Cobra position are many. The following are some of the advantages of Cobra pose: 

  • Your chest and shoulders will open up as a result of this exercise.
  • Arms, back, core, and pelvic muscles are all strengthened.
  • Stimulates the abdominal organs.
  • Improves blood and oxygen circulation.
  • Stress and fatigue are relieved. 
  • Your heart is opened. 
  • Lower back is relieved. 

 

Preparing for Cobra Pose 

Heart openers may feel extremely liberating and opening in the body, but they can also feel quite intense and tight for certain yogis. Cobra is performed following a low push-up or Chaturanga as part of the Sun Salutation routine.

Sun Salutations: Several rounds are often performed at the start of practice. If you’re having trouble practicing your Cobra, take it nice and leisurely. Sun Salutations are a great way to get your whole body heated. Warm up your body for this backbend and heart opening with the postures preceding Cobra pose. 

Throughout the whole practice: Cobra is sometimes performed towards the conclusion of lesson, during the backhanding section. It may be one of the first backbends you try before moving on to more advanced backbends like Bow position or Wheel pose. Your body should be sufficiently warmed up by this time to feel open and expansive in the position. 

 

Cobra Pose: How to Do It 

You don’t need to perform Cobra position as part of your Sun Salutation. When you need to expand your front body or relieve tension in your lower back, enter into this position. 

To do Cobra posture, follow these steps: 

  1. Lie down on your mat lengthwise, tummy down, and forehead on the mat.
  2. Place your hands on the mat in a line parallel to your ribs. 
  3. Press your hands down and spread your fingers wide.
  4. Lift your kneecaps off the mat by engaging your legs.
  5. The tops of your feet should be pressed on the floor.
  6. Lift your chest and head off the floor with an inhale.
  7. Bring your elbows closer to your ribs and engage your core.
  8. Lift your chest a bit higher, roll your shoulders down your back, and relax your shoulders without using too much arm power.
  9. Keep your chin level and your eyes straight ahead of you.
  10. Concentrate on raising your heart. 
  11. Take 5 deep breaths and hold them for 5 seconds.

 

Misalignments that are common

Cobra posture is usually performed following a low push-up or Chaturanga in a Sun Salutation. After such a difficult posture, Cobra may seem like a welcome reprieve. You may feel tempted to relax in the posture, which can lead to misalignment of the body.

Yogi practicing misaligned Cobra pose

 

Here are several typical Cobra posture misalignments: 

  • Not engaging your legs and core: Instead of using their legs and core, some yogis push into their hands and rely on arm power. Your lower back is particularly susceptible. It is critical to activate the muscles that surround it in order to protect it. If you practice Cobra position without using your muscles, your lower back may start to hurt. 
  • Lifting your chest too high: The goal of this posture is to actively elevate your chest in order to activate your chest and back muscles, not to raise your chest as high as possible. Don’t be concerned with how high you can go off the ground. Instead, concentrate on activating and straightening your muscles while maintaining correct posture.  
  • Raising your head up to increase your stretch: While it may seem that lifting your head up would intensify your stretch, it can instead strain your neck. Throwing your head back and gazing up at the ceiling serves no purpose. Maintaining a level chin and forward look is more essential. 
  • Upward Facing Dog is similar to Cobra position, however it is performed with your knees and thighs lifted off the ground, as well as with upper body effort and power. In Cobra Pose, your hands just lightly push into the mat, and the chest and head are the only portions of your body that are raised off the ground.  
  • Keep your elbows close to your torso and concentrate on utilizing your upper body strength rather than your arm strength. 

 

Modifications

While Cobra position is a precursor to Upward Facing Dog, it is still a severe backbend that may require some adjustments. Experiment with some of the modified versions listed below: 

Yogi practicing Modified Cobra poses

If the conventional Cobra position affects your lower back, move your hands farther away from your ribs. As you raise your chest up, place your hands behind your shoulders and gently press down. Keep your eyes ahead and lift your chest slightly. This variation is also known as Baby Cobra posture since it is not as deep as Cobra. 

Use a block: To guarantee correct leg engagement, place a block between your thighs. Lie down on the floor, put a block between your upper thighs, and squeeze the block with your inner thighs. As you approach the position, keep your legs firm. 

If you’re having trouble transitioning from Chaturanga to Cobra position, try practicing a modified Chaturanga with your knees on the floor. This will allow you a more controlled entry into your Cobra position, as well as greater alignment. 

 

Beginner’s Guide

  • Use props: If keeping your legs together and engaged is difficult, use a block or a strap. To keep your legs from separating, wrap your strap over your feet or upper thighs. Alternatively, put a block between your inner thighs. As you push your inner thighs together, concentrate on activating your core and back muscles to raise your chest. 
  • Forget about how high your chest lifts: if you feel a chest and back stretch in Cobra position, you’re doing everything correctly. It’s easy to compare yourself to your yogi pal whose chest is raised high off the mat. Instead of focusing on the height of your chest, focus on activating your back muscles and expanding your chest. 
  • Because Cobra position is a backbend, you may assume that all you need to do is activate your upper body or back muscles. In this position, however, a strong core is required and will protect your lower back. Draw your belly button in toward your spine as you raise your chest and maintain your legs engaged, even though your tummy is on the mat. 

 

Cobra Pose Variations 

When you’re in Cobra position, try these back bending variations: 

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Sphinx pose: Instead of using your hands to support yourself, use your elbows. With your fingers pointed toward the top of the mat, place your elbows and palms on the mat. Keep your elbows tight to your ribs and your forearms and hands firmly planted on the floor. Lift your head and chest off the mat with an inhale, rotate your shoulders back and forth, and look ahead. 

Lift your hands off the mat: Rather of maintaining your palms flat on the mat, raise them a few inches above the ground. If you feel like you’re using a lot of arm power or pressing down on the mat too hard, consider this adjustment. This adjustment allows you to concentrate on utilizing your back, legs, and core strength. 

Interlace your fingers: Are you looking for a bit more room in your chest and heart? Interlace your fingers at your low back as you raise your torso off the mat to try this variation. Move your hands away from your lower back while squeezing your palms together firmly. Relax your shoulders and concentrate on raising your heart to the ceiling. 

 

Contraindications

If you’re pregnant or have just undergone abdominal surgery, avoid this position and opt for supported bridge pose on your back instead. If you’ve recently suffered a back, arm, neck, or shoulder injury, proceed with care and ask your yoga instructor if there are any adjustments you can make. 

Are you want to expand your chest and strengthen your upper body and back? Cobra position is a posture that should be practiced on a daily basis. You may find comfort in this heart-opening backbend with a variety of adjustments and variations. Listen to your body and go slowly, and you’ll be curling your chest into a cobra form in no time! 

 

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Mariel is a yoga instructor and writer living in New York City. She has been teaching for ten years and has been a lifelong student of the old art.

Cobra Pose is an advanced backbend that can be difficult to understand at first. The pose starts in upward dog and the legs are lifted, but the body is still in front of the knees. The hips and shoulders are lifted, and the head is bent back, but the gaze is up and directed towards the front of the mat. This is not a seated backbend.. Read more about cobra pose vs upward dog and let us know what you think.

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