Cobra yoga to strengthen your spine
– Lay flat on the floor face down
– Place your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders, fingers together and pointing straight forward, keep the elbows from pointing outwards
– Place your feet hip width apart and press the tops of your feet towards the floor
– At the same time press your hips and pubic bone into the floor, this will straighten out the backs of the legs, and lift the front of the knees off the floor.
The cobra pushes the length of its body down towards the earth, in order for the head to rise upwards, getting ready to strike. Here the muscles in the legs will strengthen, and buttocks will become firm. (Who doesn’t want firm buttocks?)
- Apply a little more pressure into the floor with the tops of the feet, hips and pubic bone. You will automatically start to feel the head and chest rising upward.
- First let the legs do their work with maximum strength. Using no pressure from the hands.
- When the head and chest reach to the maximum height from the power of the legs, apply just a little pressure into the hands, to lift a slightly higher. Be sensitive, careful that you do not pressure the lower back too much.
Do not straighten the elbows; if you do the arms will take away all the weight of the upper body. It is the legs that are to do the most work here. If you straighten the elbows, the technique of the pose will be lost, and you will convert the pose partially to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (The Upward Facing Dog Pose). So let’s just focus on the cobra for now, I will write on the dogs later!
So, keeping the elbows slightly bent will ensure the legs don’t get lazy! If you start to notice too much tension in the arms, you simply have to apply more pressure into the pubic bone and tops of the feet.
- While keeping the pubic bone and tops of the feet working strong into the floor, slowly push your lower ribs forward, these are very subtle movements so don’t go and over do!
- Lift the center of the chest upwards
- Lift your chin up to stretch out the throat
- Gently reach with the top of your head towards the buttocks.
- Often when the head is reaching back, some tension will form on the forehead particularly if you are lifting your eyebrows, some people even blink rapidly… these are just silly habits. If you notice that you are an eyebrow lifter, simply point the pupils of the eyes towards the tip of the nose, that should sort out that little problem!
- Keep the chest at the same height, and slowly draw the shoulders down. As if you are releasing a shrug.
Here, all the organs in the belly get stretched, stimulated and toned, the chest is opened and the passages for the heart and lungs are cleared. The shoulders are strengthened, and circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the spinal and pelvic region are improved.
For those who find a little too much tension in the neck, all you need to do, is draw the chin slightly in towards the throat. From time to time, reach again upwards with the chin, this will inspire a healing process for tight necks.
If you are feeling strong, try this little trick.
- While you are in full posture, keep you hands firm on the floor do not let them move on floor
- Start to draw your hands and elbows back towards your hips
This will take you slightly deeper into the back bend. Remember the hands do not move. Be very sensitive to the spinal column as you do this.
Less experienced people or people who need to be more sensitive with back bends can do ardha bhujangasana (half cobra pose) instead.
- Apply the same technique for the legs
- Instead of hands under the shoulders, put your elbows directly under the shoulders, with your forearms and fingers pointing straight forward and flat on the floor.
- Keep your chin horizontal and the top of the head reaching straight up towards the ceiling.
The breath is the most important part of yoga
In most backbends (stretching the front parts of the body and spinal column) the inhale is the active breath and the exhale the passive.
- On the inhale, push the pubic bone and tops of the feet stronger into the floor, and reach back slightly further with the top of the head
- On the exhale, ease up slightly in the pose
- Then activate again reaching a little further on the next inhale etc.
This much for today