In any Vinyasa Yoga class with sequencing stemming from the Sun Salutations, you are likely to encounter Cobra Pose many times. It is a very grounding Asana that strengthens your upper body with:
- uplifting energy through the heart
- expansive movement for the lungs
- liberating effects for the spine
This Asana is typically sandwiched between two other major Poses. It happens after Plank Pose and before Downward Dog (or Child’s Pose).
As a teacher, I often observe in the body of students that Cobra Pose gets lost in the shuffle of movement. People are trying to keep up, and the glorious and liberating inhalation that accompanies Cobra is not quite so glorious or liberated because the pose is rushed or scrunched.
I want you to feel the glory! And I think that you find once you empower your technique in this pose, your back develops the necessary strength and your core the necessary flexibility to not only achieve liberation in this asana, but also foundations for the wide world of progression in yoga asana. So, let’s look at the movement inside this particular pose so that we transcend the “scampering to- and from-” and actually enter a heightened state of FLOW within our practice.
These are not your average yoga tips, so please “listen up” while you read 😉
Take a moment to set up the pose so that you can FEEL the difference and ACTIVATE the power of your body in Bhujangasana.
Here are some ways to activate Cobra and make it more effective, using the extra assistance of a Yoga Block and Blanket:
#1. Place the Yoga Block between your big toes, at the ball of your foot.
#2. Set your pelvis on a supportive blanket, about 1 – 2 inches high. This allows your pelvis to accentuate downward pressure into the ground which then serves to emphasize the grounding energy of the legs to feel like a cobra tail.
#3. Point your toes and lift the block between your feet off of the ground. Hold the lift-off for a few breaths, and gently pulsate the lower legs (knees/ankles/feet) up-&-down. This strengthens your backside, from head to lower back, glutes to hamstrings, and calves to heels.
#4. Now, place the tops of your feet to the mat, continuing to squeeze the block and keeping your toes pointed. With your open hands pressing to the mat under your armpit and shoulder, draw your elbow back towards your hips and feel as if there were magnets between the elbows pulling them closer together behind your back. You should feel strength traveling between your shoulder blades through the back of your neck to your head.
#5. Exert an isometric action of your hands towards your hips. “Isometric” means that you are moving in a direction without actually moving your body through space. The effect of this isometric action of the hands dragging towards the hips, is that the spinal column lengthens and rib cage shifts slightly forward.
#6. Continue these actions:
Squeeze the block between the balls of your feet.
Root down through your pelvis
Press your hands into the mat and magnetize your elbows together
Isometrically drag your hands towards your hips
Welcome breath into your body (Inhale) and allow your chest to shift forward as your spine lengthens and rib cage arches upward. Notice that it is not a lift up, but an arch up.
#8. Then, press down into the mat through your hands and pull your hips back towards your heels for Child’s Pose (Balasana).
Do you notice the different muscles that activate with these props and techniques?
How do your hips feel?
How does your back feel?
What about your head, neck, and shoulders?
Everything should get a new touch of power and fresh breath of sensation <3
2 replies added
Courtney, Thanks for this article. This is such a great option for using a block. What a beautifully done article and great photos! Namaste, Mary
What a wonderful piece! Thank you for the meticulously-articulated step-by-step instruction and for encouraging everyone to take the time and care necessary to fully experience the pose and its power. Love it! More of this please! 🙂