Bhujangasana (cobra pose) is the perfect antidote for sitting at the computer all day. Excessive sitting can atrophy the muscles that hold posture. This often results in shoulders that round forward and a spine that looks more like a “C” than a healthy, soft “S.”
Cobra pose strengthens the muscles that hold healthy posture, helping to undo the many hours spent at the computer.
There are three primary things to consider when practicing this pose. First, there is a common misconception that the tailbone should be tucked in those pose. This inhibits the natural movement of the lower spine in back bending. Instead, imagine the top of the sacrum moving down into the pelvis. Allow that to anchor the pose.
Then, remember a cobra has no arms. It is tempting to lift yourself by pushing the hands into the floor. Instead, keep your belly button on the floor, draw the shoulder blades toward the pelvis and slightly together. Then, lift with your back muscles.
You may be better able to focus on utilizing the appropriate muscles if you practice one of these “no arm” variations (demonstrated in the video below):
1. Baby Cobra: Just like the full pose, the hands start under the shoulders and the elbows are hugging the side body. But, lift the hands with the upper body as you come into the pose.
2. “T” Cobra: Lengthen the arms out to the sides, in line with the shoulders. The palms are facing downward. As you lift into the pose, keep the arms at shoulder height.
3. Half Locust: Place your arms along the side the body, with the palms facing in, thumbs down. Reach back with your arms and lift them with your torso as you come into the pose.
Finally, pay attention to the position of your head and neck in cobra pose. In the full pose and each of the above variations, be sure to keep the chin down and the neck long. Your gaze should be at the mat in front of your hands, not the wall in front of you.
Hold the pose for three – five breaths. Rest and repeat. Enjoy!
P.S. This post is part of a series on the basics of many of the most common poses. Look here for additional posts in this series.
Have you been practicing these variations of cobra for a long time or are they new to you? How do you “undo” the posture created at the computer? Let, please comment below!