Bhujanga means cobra. Cobras are of mythological importance in yoga. Kundalini Shakti is symbolic of the ordinarily latent serpent power at the base of the spine. According to Vedic Aryan tradition, the snake coiled its body in a rhythmic, circling, spiral reflective of the lunar tides of time. In ‘The Masks of the God: Primitive Mythology’, Joseph Campbell writes, “the supporting energy and substance of the universe, and consequently of the individual, is imaged in India in the figure of the serpent. And the Yogi is the master of this power.” BKS Iyengar advises yoga practitioners using the imagery of a snake, saying, “Like a snake, the spine should be moved from end to end; when the head moves, the movement is transmitted to the tail.”
Benefits of Cobra Pose
- Stretches the muscles on the front side of the body, giving your body mind the opportunity to release tension and trauma locked deep in the subconscious. Stretching the front side of the spine also releases tension from the physical body.
- Stretches and detoxifies the lymph nodes in the groin, giving a boost to the immune system.
- Opens the endocrine system.
- Should be avoided during pregnancy or if you suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease. Stroke victims should avoid this asana. Modifications are indicated for those who suffer from back pain.
- Lie prone. Breathe into your belly and notice the connection between the front side of your body and the earth.
- Place your hands underneath your shoulders. Feel the weight evenly distributed across your palms.
- Inhale and engage your gluteal muscles to lift your head, neck, shoulders, chest, and elbows from the ground (in that order). Articulate the spine from the top of the cervical spine to the thoracic spine.
- Reach the crown of your head away from your toes, lengthening your neck and extending your spine a little more.
- Spread your fingers wide apart and press into the space between your thumb and index finger.
- Feel your breastbone reach forward on each inhale, bringing the neck in line with the rest of the spine.
- Continue to lengthen the crown of your head away from your toes.
- Press the hip flexors into the mat.
- Extend the neck in line with the rest of the spine.
- Feel your heart lifting on each inhalation.
- Breathe deeply and visualize a nourishing fluid saturating the discs of your spine.
- Exhale as you gradually lower your torso (from the thoracic to the cervical spine) onto the mat.