‘Bhujangasana’ or ‘Sarpasana’ derives the name from Cobra or the Serpent Pose. Thus, when you do the pose fully – your body will take the shape of a hooded cobra. In Sanskrit “Bhujang” literally means ‘Cobra”. This pose is practiced in the cycle of Poses in Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar). It finds it’s origin in the 17th century hatha yoga text Gheranda Samhita.
Yoga Cobra Pose is practiced by you lying on your abdomen. Thus, it is first in a series of backward-bending poses or exercises. You pull your back against gravity, therefore it is one of the best ways if you are want to develop a strong back.
“This always increases bodily heat, destroys all diseases, and by the practice of this posture the Serpent-Goddess (kundalini) awakens.” – Gheranda Samhita.
How to do the Cobra or Serpent Pose in Sequence
Preparatory Relaxation Pose before starting the Cobra Pose:
Lie flat on your abdomen and relax. bring up one hand on top of the other and make a pillow by resting your head on them. You can rest your head by turning it on one side and resting your cheek on the hands.
As you lie bring your toes together and heels apart.
Stay in this position and rest for 60 seconds before you start the Cobra Pose.
Remember to maintain deep abdominal breathing while you are in this position – same as per the Corpse Pose. Your abdomen should be felt pressing against the floor as you inhale.
Cobra Pose or Serpent Pose Sequence:
With your legs together, toes touching and heels apart as you lay down on your abdomen on the floor bring your hands to the side of your shoulder with palms flat on the yoga mat. Your hands should be next to each respective shoulder and fingertips in line with the shoulder top. While you take your hands down also bring your forehead to the ground. keep your elbows bent, inwards towards the body and pointing slightly upwards. Do not lift your shoulders – keep them away from the ears.
As you inhale visualize the smooth movement of the snake. While doing so inhale and roll the head up looking ahead and then stretch your neck so that you bend your head backwards. While doing so – first your nose will lift and then your chin.
Push your hands on the floor as you raise your chest off the floor at the same time as the head.
Feel each vertebrae by vertebrae stretching of your body as you arch the upper portion of your body. As you do this remember each vertebrae helps the pressure travel downwards from the cervical, dorsal and lumbar areas. Therefore it reaches the sacrum lastly. Your hips and legs should be placed on the ground.
As you look up draw your shoulder blades close to each other while feet are also kept together.
Once you come into the position hold it using the strength of your upper back and neck rather than the arms. If you are a beginner – hold the position for 10 seconds. However more advanced students can gradually increase the time span to hold yourself in this position for a minute. While you are in the position – remember to breathe in and out comfortably. Breathe in through your nostrils and make sure to keep your mouth closed.
Howto come out of the Bhujangasana in Hatha Yoga
As you take a deep breath after breathing normally for 10 seconds or 60 seconds – exhale and roll out slowly out of the posture. Firstly, uncurl your back while you keep your head arched backwards. When the entire back is rolled out then end up rolling down your forehead on the floor.
If you are a beginner do Bhujangasana just ‘once’. However advanced students can repeat this 2-3 times before you relax on your abdomen. Place your hands folded under your head and rest your cheek on your hands with your head turned on one side.
- Hands are not aligned and above the shoulder when you are preparing for the serpent or cobra pose. You should place the hands directly under the shoulder before you start the pose.
- Pushing into the Serpent or Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) while applying all the pressure on the arms.
- Pushing and not rolling in and out of the position is another common mistake. The manner in which you get into the position is actually more important than the position itself.
- Some people hunch their shoulders or rotate them inwards – should be strictly avoided. The shoulders are to be down and not pulled up near the ears.
- Head is hanging forward rather than being arched backwards.
- Mouth is open.
- Arms are stretched out and straight while the head is lifted. Entire body is above the hips is off the floor.
Benefits of Cobra Pose or Serpent Pose (Bhujangasana)
- When you arch your spine – it improves it’s flexibility, brings fresh rich blood supply to the spine and rejuvenates the spinal nerves.
- Moreover, the Cobra Pose or the Serpent pose gives a much needed backward bend and stretch to the spine. As a result each and every vertebrae is pulled back and gives a rich blood supply. Not only the nerves – it also rejuvenates the spinal muscles.
- For those who have a hunchback, back ache, myalgia (muscles pain) or lumbago (lower back pain) of the back – Bhujangasana or the Cobra Pose is the best remedy.
- The Serpent or the Cobra Pose tones and massages the muscles in your back especially in the lumbar region.
- Cobra Pose stretches the thoracic region of your spine and increases the lung capacity since it expands the rib cage. People suffering from chronic asthma find great relief after practicing Bhujangasana.
- Uterus and Ovaries: Srepent or Cobra pose is like a tonic as it tones the uterus and ovaries. Moreover, this yoga pose relives utero-ovarine and menstrual issues in women. It also combats pain during menstruation (dysmenorrhea), absence of menstruation (amenorrhoea) and whitish vaginal discharge (leucorrhea) and other reproductive related disorders.
- It cures constipation due to the pressure on the abdomen while practicing the Serpent or Cobra Pose.
- Both the superficial and deep muscles of the back and abdominal regions are massaged, toned and strengthened as you practice Bhujangasana. Therefore while doing this pose your abdomen should be on the floor.
- Bhujangasana helps increase bodily heat – destroying a host of ailments as a result.
- It also relieves exaggerated thoracic Curvature (kyphosis).
The nature of the pose is to focus on contracting the muscles in your upper back and neck. Therefore, it helps build your power of concentration.