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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.