If you took at least one yoga lesson, the chances are that you’ve done Cobra pose already. It’s a very popular yoga pose (asana), and all times favourite for many yoga schools and traditions. I love it for its energizing effect which is especially relevant now, when it’s cold and cloudy this winter in Taipei. I love its feel on my low back as it restores its natural curve after a night sleep. I love how it helps me to open my chest to breathe deeper.
Let’s practice together! But before you do, have a look at contraindications: back injury, headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, pregnancy, peptic ulcer, hernia.
How to perform: Lie on the abdomen with the legs pressed together or at hip distance. Place the hands beside the chest, with fingertips in line with the front of the shoulders; keep the elbows upward and hug them close to the body. On inhalation press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly to the floor and begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor. Lift yourself only to the height at which you can maintain a connection to the floor from the pubis to the legs – the size of the backbend doesn’t matter! Keep the pelvis on the ground. Look straight ahead or upward. Hold the pose anywhere from 6 to 12 breaths. To release, slowly lower down to the ground with an exhalation.
Do not hunch the shoulders up towards the ears – keep the shoulders relaxed downwards. Do not let the elbows splay away from the shoulders – hug the elbows to the sides.
Do engage the spinal muscles and legs – keep the body in one extended line. Create a smooth, even arc in the spine – the lower, middle, and upper back should all have the same degree of sensation. Press the palms firmly to the ground and keep the elbows slightly bent to open the chest more.
What if… my back feels uncomfortable? Slight discomfort is normal when the back is stiff and the uncomfortable feeling will pass away as the stiffness decreases. However, make sure you are not forcing yourself till you are in pain.
Benefits: Strengthens the deep muscles of the spine. Stimulates digestion and relieves constipation, often releases gas trapped in the upper digestive tract. Relieves tension in the ovaries and uterus, and helps alleviate menstrual and other gynaecological disorders. Tones the liver and massages the kidneys and adrenal glands. Opens the chest and heart, subtly releasing held emotions within the rib cage. Strengthens the lungs, relieves compression of the diaphragm and promotes a fuller breathing pattern. It’s energizing, and can help alleviate depression.
5th January 2012
P.S. Have a look at the comments after the video on Youtube page. It might answer some of your questions. And if not, ask me! I’ll be delighted to help if I can.