Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)


What is Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)?

Cobra Pose

Bhujangasana or Cobra Pose is a hatha yoga heart-opening backbend that relaxes the entire upper body, rejuvenates the spine, and can aid with persistent shoulder tightness, lower back discomfort, bloated abdomen, or neck soreness.


Bhujangasana is a Sanskrit word that combines 'Bhujanga,' which means 'Serpent,' and 'Asana,' which means 'Posture.' It is also called 'Cobra Pose' because it physically resembles the position of a sitting cobra with its hood lifted.

This yoga pose originates from Gheranda Samhita, a 17th-century hatha yoga classic. Chapter 2, verses 42-43, describes this yoga pose and how one should perform it in steps. 

Sanskrit Name: भुजंगासन          Pronunciation: Bhu-jung-aahs-uh-nuh

Pose Type: Backbend             Also known as: Cobra Pose or Sphinx Pose

Strengthens: Core Muscles     

Stretches: Vertebral Column, Shoulders, Thorax, and Abdomen. 

Health Benefits of Bhujangasana 

  • It stimulates kidney function.

  • Improves lung function by opening the chest.

  • It helps in strengthening the arms & shoulders. 

  • Improves digestion and outflow of body toxins.

  • It works on your abs and helps in losing belly fat. 

  • Heals gynecological problems like PCOD and PCOS.

  • It helps relieve stress by massaging the adrenal gland.

  • Improves flexibility by expanding the chest and shoulders. 

  • Four out of the seven chakras are activated by Bhujangasana. 

  • This pose may reduce lower back stiffness with regular practice. 

  • This pose aids in calming the nerves that surround the spine, which reduces sciatica pain.

When to Avoid Performing Bhujangasana

  • Avoid during pregnancy

  • Avoid during menstruation.

  • Avoid after severe injury or recent surgery around the abdomen or spine. 

How to do Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)?

The whole process of performing Bhujangasana is divided into four parts - warm-up, posing practice, things to keep in mind, and relaxation. Let’s dive in to see how this works. 

Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Bhujangasana

Bhujangasana works on the shoulders and arms apart from the back and core. As a result, make sure to increase blood flow to these particular muscle groups.

Perform the poses below for your warm-up: 

1. Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutations) - Surya namaskar is a series of yoga poses with 12 postures, including Cobra Pose. It's a dynamic flow stretching routine, and performing sun salutation rounds for five minutes will instantly help your blood rush throughout the body.

Surya Namaskar

2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog) - This preparatory stretch is a static back-opening yoga pose. The back is arched upwards with full support from the knees and arms, and because the shoulders and arms support the body, the strength used to perform this pose also energizes your muscles for Cobra Pose. 

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)

3. Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx Pose) - This preparatory stretch is the initial step towards a full Cobra Pose. The elbows support the entire upper body set parallel to the floor. 

Salamba Bhujangasana (Sphinx Pose)

Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Bhujangasana

Step 1- Lie on your belly with your arms folded under your head and your chin resting on your forearms, and extend your legs.

Step 2- Make sure to align your head and back together in one line, and keep the toes of your feet flat on the mat.


Step 3- Place your hands at the level of your chest and press down with your hands. Slightly lift your head off the mat, keeping your head and back aligned, and press your thighs together.

Step 4 - Now, steadily pull your elbows towards your ribs and align your hands and shoulders. 

Step 5 - On a deep inhale, press your hands into the mat, curl your shoulders backward, and lift your upper body off the mat. 

Step 6 - Make sure to pull your shoulder blades together and slightly down as you lift. Also, raise your neck, looking up and forward. 

Step 7 - As you lift, press your legs together, press down through the tops of your feet, and lift your chest forward. Hold this position here for a few breaths. 

Step 8 - If you're feeling comfortable here in half cobra and want a deeper stretch, now fully extend your arms and get your upper body tall and erect. Hold here as well for a few breaths.

Inhalation: Slowly and deeply inhale as you lift your upper body.

Exhalation: Slowly and deeply exhale as you relax back onto the ground.

Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold the cobra pose for 20-60 seconds. 

Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold the cobra pose for 3 to 5 minutes. 

Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind

When the cobra pose is done incorrectly, it might cause pain in the lower back and lower abdomen. Thus, here are a few common mistakes you must avoid:

  • Hands position must be close to the chest- If your hands are kept too far apart, you may find yourself locking your shoulders against your ears, and you won't be able to stretch your chest properly. 

  • You're lifting too high- It's not about how high you can raise your upper body; it's about how far your spine can stretch. So, take it easy on your lower back and be mindful of your spine movement. 

  • Your leg spacing is not good- If your legs are too close, place them together hip-distance apart to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your body.

  • You're not moving your neck correctly - Another typical mistake is to extend your neck too far. It can be difficult to breathe when you stretch too far and fail to keep a soft bend in your neck. Be sure to avoid cramming your neck and overextending your neck backward.

Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Bhujangasana

Cobra pose is a semi-to-deep backbend stretch, and the more you hold this pose, the more important it becomes to relax post-practice. Here are a few counter yoga poses you can perform in a yoga flow as you move towards relaxing:

1. Prasarita Balasana (Wide Child's Pose): From Bhujangasana, move your body backward and sit onto your heels. Stretching your arms in front of you, relaxing your upper body and exhaling deeply while you relax. 

Prasarita Balasana (Wide Child's Pose)

2. Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose): From Wide Child's Pose, raise the body and sit on the heels with the back straight. Place your palms on your thighs and relax your shoulders and neck while taking deep breaths. Ascertain that your back is straight and up. This relaxes the muscles in the neck and lower back even more.

Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)

3. Sasankasana (Rabbit Pose): Inhale and slowly elevate your body out of Vajrasana, bringing the crown of your head near to your knees and raising the lower back upwards. While still maintaining Shashankasana, stretch the arms completely.

Sasankasana (Rabbit Pose)

4. Savasana (Corpse Stance): Simply, place the body on the floor, feet apart, and arms away from the body, in total relaxation lie down on your back and exhale deeply. With your eyes closed, concentrate on the movement of your chest and belly while you breathe. Concentrate on loosening the limbs to relax the body.

Savasana (Corpse Stance)

Bhujangasana Modifications and Props

Don't worry if full Cobra Pose is too much for you. A minor adjustment can make your practice a lot more enjoyable. Here are a few pointers to make practicing simpler for beginners.

  • Make use of a prop. Place a folded towel or bolster pillow below your pelvis and abdomen for added support. This will take off the extra pressure from your lower back.

Cobra Pose with Prop

  • Place the forearms on the floor (a.k.a Sphinx Pose). It relieves pressure around your palms and allows you to control your movement better. As a result, you'll be able to focus more on keeping your spine aligned. 

Sphinx Pose

  • Ask for support. If you have strong black muscles but lose balance due to uncontrolled breathing, ask your yoga teacher to assist you by elevating you from behind your arms, providing the necessary stretch to the back. 

Bhujangasana Variations to Consider

Bhujangasana or Cobra pose is divided into three basic variations, and you can practice any of them depending on your body's needs and capabilities. 

1. Baby Cobra: The bent-arm variation of Cobra Pose is Baby Cobra. Before moving on to the complete posture, try to master Baby Cobra first. Stick to Baby Cobra and keep the lift of the upper body lower if you have lower back issues. Bring your hands further in front and raise your head to a neutral level.

Baby Cobra

2. Cobra Pose with Elbows Bent: This is a simpler variation of the traditional cobra pose. Get into the cobra stance, by completely straightening your arms, you can keep them slightly curled or bent. You'll feel your core muscles but not much upper body activation.

Cobra Pose with Elbows Bent

3. Revolved Cobra Pose: It's a simple prone pose for beginners that gently rotates the spine. The chest is lifted, and the head is moved to look back in a twisting action. 

During our daily activities, the thoracic spine is rarely extended, resulting in tightness and stiffness in the upper back, shoulders, and neck.

The thoracic spine is the least flexible of the spine and by practicing a revolving cobra, the range of motion around this area of the spine can be enhanced.

Revolved Cobra Pose:

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Level-Up Poses After Bhujangasana for Advanced Yogis

Once you have mastered the Cobra stance with all its variations, you’re ready to perform the following advanced backbend poses, like:

Level-Up Pose 1 - Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

Level-Up Pose 2 - Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

Level-Up Pose 3 - Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Level-Up Pose 4 - Raja Bhujangasana (King Cobra Pose)  

Locust Pose  

 1. Locust Pose  

Bow Pose

2. Bow Pose

 Camel Pose

3. Camel Pose

King Cobra Pose

4. King Cobra Pose

Similar Backbend Poses like Bhujangasana

Here is a list of some backbend yoga poses, which are similar to Bhujangasana practice. Take a look: 

  1. Bitilasana (Cow Pose)

  2. Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)

  3. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

  4. Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose)

  5. Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Frequently Asked Questions about Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

What is a Cobra Pose?

How do you do the Snake Pose Yoga?

What is Bhujangasana and its benefits?

What are the benefits of Cobra Stretch?

How long should you hold Cobra Yoga Pose?

What muscles does the Cobra Exercise work?

Is Baby Cobra Pose for beginners?

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