Jason Phan takes us through Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), a back-bending asana.
Benefits of Cobra Pose
The art and practice of yoga aims to create balance between the mind, body and spirit. It incorporates fundamental elements of wellness that we all tend to overlook: breath, mindfulness, meditation and movement. Cobra pose will help open the heart chakra, which acts as a balance point and allows love, positivity and compassion into our lives. Yoga can help us understand the biomechanics of the body, allowing us to build strength and flexibility efficiently. In addition, the practice stimulates the nervous system, detoxification system, and lymphatic system to cleanse the body, creating an optimal state of wellness.
A common mistake during yoga practice is losing track of our breath. Let your breath fuel each and every cell in your body. In cobra, engage the mid-back muscles to roll your shoulders back, causing expansion of the chest to allow deep breathing. Make sure to push with each and every muscle in your hands, from your palm all the way to your fingertips. Contract and allow the abdominal muscles to elongate. This will build strength in the core and the antagonist muscles of the low back. Pull your strength into the core by contracting the hamstring and quadriceps muscles, giving you a firm base and preventing injury. Push with the crown of your head, stretching the cervical spine, and allow the neck to relax slowly. Bring attention to your facial muscles. Relax your cheeks, your jaw, your eyelids, and don’t forget to breathe. This pose is excellent for stretching the abdominals and creating flexibility in the lower back. Keep in mind, there are several variations to this pose, so play around and have fun with it.
- Be sure to press through the palm of the hands and fully extend the arms. Doing so will help with many other poses and upper body exercises as well.
- Roll the shoulders back and activate the rhomboids. This will stretch and expand the pectoral, intercostals, and deltoid muscles to achieve an optimal posture.
- Stay as long as you can and expand the chest while relaxing the head back.
- Allow the muscles to complete a full contraction, then relax and allow those muscle fibers to elongate.
Creating a safe place to become tuned in with your body is essential. Be cognoscente of where your body is in space. Feel wherever there may be tension in the body. Do not place any judgement. Listen to your body. Allow it to self-correct, and relax into the pose. Awareness is critical in preventing injury and understanding which areas may need a bit more attention. Awareness can be physical, but it must also be mental. Mental awareness is the key to calming the mind from stressful thoughts and emotions that may have accumulated throughout the day, week, month or even year. Practicing yoga helps us to clear this negativity with each and every breath.
Photo by Natiya Guin.
Find more Man on the Mat poses here.