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Bhujangasana, Cobra pose

Cobra pose is one of the very powerful backward bending asana in Hatha Yoga. It has a huge amount of benefits which cover all the body systems.

(Bhu-JAN-ga-asana)

    • Saral – straight
    • Hasta – arm
    • Bhujanga – cobra

    In this position the body takes the position of cobra, raising its body and preparing to strike.

    Bhujangasana - Cobra Pose

    Taking the asana position:
    http://www.yogapoint.com/images/a21.gifhttp://www.yogapoint.com/images/a22.gif

    • Bring both the hands near the chest and place the palms on the ground with the fingers together pointing forward and thumbs pointed towards the body.  The elbows should be raised towards the ceiling close to the body. Place the forehead on the ground.
    • http://www.yogapoint.com/images/a23.gif
    • While inhaling slowly raise the forehead, bend the neck backwards and then slowly raising the shoulders, chest and abdomen from the ground until the arms are straight, very slowly, vertebrae by vertebrae, stretching backwards. Continue to maintain the asana, breathing normally.

    The asana position:
    In this position the pressure is felt on the arms and hands as well as the lower back. Over time this pressure can gradually be placed more on to the lower back. One should try to raise the body up with the help of the spine. Once the final position is attained the arms are straight, the chest is forward and open, the shoulders and neck are back and the heels are together. The neck is compressed and the throat is stretched. The facial muscles should be relaxed. The breathing should be normal.

    Releasing the asana position:
    Inhale and while exhaling slower lower the abdomen, chest and finally the forehead on the ground using the support of the arms.
    Place the chin on the floor and return the arms back to the prone position.

    Anatomical focus:
    The lower back and stretch on the front side of the body.

    Awareness:
    The arch of the back, relaxing the lower back and normal breathing. Also on abdomen and chest while breathing in a relaxed way through chest.

    Do:
    Try and keep the arms straight, palms on the ground.
    Try and keep the knees and ankles together, toes pointed.
    Gaze towards the ceiling.
    You can lift the hips and thighs if the back is not flexible.
    Open the chest; pull the shoulders backwards and downwards.
    Relax the lowerback and raise the hips if you experience pain in lowerback.

    Don’t:
    Have any distance between the legs.
    Let the shoulders hunch upwards towards the ears.

    Benefits:

  • Helps to remove backache and neck ache as well as keeping the spine supple and healthy. By arching the spine blood circulation is increased to that region toning the nerves along the spinal column and improving the communication between the brain and the rest of the body.
  • The pressure on the abdomen is also beneficial to the abdominal organs and in particular the digestive organs, it stimulates the appetite, relieves flatulence and constipation.
  • Tones the kidneys which help with purification of blood, removing any stagnant blood and improving the health of the whole body.
  • Strengthens the adrenal glands which is responsible for secretions of adrenaline, cortisol and othe stress hormones, the balancing effect on the hormone secretions is the benefit of asanas.
  • Tones the liver, making it beneficial for those with a sluggish liver.
  • Helps the functioning of thyroid gland, which is responsible for metabolic activities.
  • Expands  and opens the chest which encourages deep breathing as well as helping to correct rounded shoulders.
  • Useful for slipped disc and sciatica as it relieves the pain and can also relocate the slipped disc.
  • In normal day-to-day life we do a lot of forward bending but not much backward bending, therefore it is good to practice for a healthy back and to give general balance to the body.

Benefits for Women:

    •  Tones the ovaries and the uterus and helps to alleviate gynaecological disorders such as leucorrhea (irregular vaginal discharge due to an imbalance in oestrogen), dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation) and amenorrhoea (absent menstruation).

Therapeutic applications:
Back ache
Neck pain
Gynaecological disorders
Anorexia
Flatulence
Constipation
Sluggish liver
Impure blood
Stress
Slipped disc

Precautions and Contra-indications:
Should not be practiced by those with severe problems of the spine, stomach ulcers, hernias or pregnant women.
It should be practiced with care for those with stiff backs and for those who are menstruating. Also not recommended for people with heart diseases. Should not be practiced by those who have undergone surgeries of spine, brain, abdomen, heart and lungs.

Duration:
To begin with this asana should be held for 5 to ten seconds. It can be repeated 3 to 5 times, depending on the individual’s capacity. With practice the number of repetitions can be increased. At this point reduce the number of repetitions but increase the time. Gradually increase the time to 1 minute. After more practice the time can be increased up to 3 to 5 minutes.

Additional section -

Variations and tips:

  • When practicing the pose some people may have their hips on the ground whilst others will have them lifted. This will depend on two reasons. Firstly the flexibility of the back and secondly the body shape and length of the arms.
  • Try to relax the lower back as much as possible when attaining the position as it will be difficult to get a nice arch and stretch in the back if the back is tense. The more the lower back is relaxed, the more the rest of the body will relax.
  • To counter balance the stretch in the body practice shalabhasana after saralhasta bhujangasana. 

Preparatory poses:
Sahajahasta Bhujangasana

Follow up poses:
Vakrahasta Bhujangasana
Niralamba Bhujangasana
Shalabhasana
Naukasana
Dhanurasana

Ancient texts:

Reference from Gherand Samhita by Sage Gherand
Angushthanabhiparyantmadhobhumau Cha Vinyaset I
Dharaam Karatalabhyam Dhrutvaurdhvasheershah Phaneev Hi II (Gherand Samhita 2 -42)
Meaning: Touch the body to the ground right from the great toe to the navel. Touch both palms to the ground and raise the head like the hood of the snake.
Dehagnirvardhate Nityan Sarvarogvinashanam I
Jagarti Bhujagi Devi Bhujangasanasadhanaat II (Gherand Samhita 2 – 43)
Meaning: On studying Bhujangasana the fire in the body gets stimulated and it destroys all diseases. Moreover the kundalini also gets aroused with the study of this asana.

This asana has been given great importance as it stimulates the digestive fire, this idea of stimulation is related to making the digestive system so strong that it destroys all the diseases by providing proper energy and nutrients to all other parts of the body. Yoga and ayurveda believe in treating the digestion for many problems. So perfect health is achieved if the digestion is perfect. Also the Asana purifies the nadis and purifies the sushumna nadi which awakens the dormant kundalini energy at mooladhar chakra.

Compiled by -Jigyasu Bhaktiratna (Kate Woodworth)
 

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