Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra Pose, Bhujangasana, (Bhoo-Jung-Gaa-Suh-Nuh)

bhujanga (cobra) + asana (posture)

Also known as: Upward Dog Pose

Pose Type: Stress Relief, Stretching, Strengthening, Back Pain, Sciatica, Digestion

Difficulty: Beginner

a photo of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing Cobra pose

Open your heart and stretch your shoulders with Cobra Pose.

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Cobra Pose Fundamentals

Cobra Pose is a generous heart-opening backbend. Feel your chest radiate outwards as you unfurl into this pose.

You can flow through Cobra Pose in a Sun Salutation sequence in place of an Upward Facing Dog Pose.

Be aware of not straining your spine by pushing upwards too hard with your hands or coming into a Cobra too quickly. Instead, be sure that the pressure is evenly distributed throughout your spine, and bring your Cobra closer to the earth if you feel a pinching sensation.

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Cobra Pose Benefits

  • Strengthens the spine
  • Stretches the front body: chest, abs, and shoulders
  • Opens up the lungs and heart
  • An energy booster, fight fatigue with this pose
  • Improves posture
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How To Do The Cobra Pose: Step-By-Step

a gif of a woman doing cobra pose

How to get there:

1. Begin on your mat, lying flat on your front, with the tops of your feet resting on the floor. 

2. Stretch your legs to the back of the mat as you place your palms flat on the mat underneath your shoulders, fingers splayed. Keep the elbows hugged in tight to the sides of your torso.

3. Inhale and straighten your arms to lift your chest off the floor. The goal here is to lift your chest as high as possible while still being comfortable and maintaining contact between your pubis and the mat (it’s normal that your arms will still be slightly bent here!).

4. Tuck your tailbone under towards the navel, as you press the tops of the feet, thighs and pubis down into the mat. Draw your shoulder blades back and down

5. Remain here for 5 deep breaths – maybe incorporating a hissing exhale to show of their best cobra impression!

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing cobra pose

Tips And Tricks:

  • In Cobra Pose, you may be tempted you clench and squeeze your buttocks- don’t! Squeezing your glutes can compress your lower back, adding pressure to your spine. Instead, keep your glutes relaxed and rotate your inner thighs upwards to lengthen your tailbone backwards. 
  • Be gentle with yourself in Cobra Pose, if you feel a pinching sensation, lower towards the earth by inching your palms further forward on the mat.
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Cobra pose variation: Cobra Pose Hands Off The Floor

a picture of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing a baby cobra hands lifted pose variation

Challenge your back strength in Cobra Pose by hovering your hands off the earth. This variation will increase your body awareness and ensure that you don’t force yourself into a Cobra Pose that is too intense.

a gif of a woman doing cobra pose with her hands off floor
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Cobra pose variation: Sphinx Pose

If Cobra Pose is too intense a back stretch for you right now, swap it out with Sphinx Pose, Cobra Pose’s gentler sister pose.

a photo of a woman in Sphinx Pose

How To Get There:

1. Lay down on your belly and place your forearms in front of you, palms facing down and arms shoulder-width apart.

2. Bring your elbows directly under your shoulders and your hands in line with your elbows.

3. Separate your feet to hip-width and press the tops of your feet down into the mat as you spread your toes wide.

4. Slide your chest forward and up while allowing the tops of your shoulders to soften down away from your ears as you relax your neck and jaw.

5. Hold the pose for 60 seconds or more and then slowly come out using your exhalation.

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Precautions & Contraindications:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

Cobra Pose puts pressure through your wrists. If you suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, enter Cobra Pose consciously. If this pose is painful for you, consider Sphinx Pose.

Pregnancy:

It’s best to avoid Cobra Pose if you are pregnant as the pose puts pressure on your belly area.

Spinal and Neck Injuries:

If you are experiencing a spinal injury, it may be best to avoid Cobra Pose as it puts pressure through the spine. Enter the pose with awareness and consider coming into Baby Cobra Pose if that serves you better.

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Preparatory Poses

Locust Pose

Baby Cobra

Sphinx Pose

Counter Poses

Child’s Pose

Cat Pose

Happy Baby Pose

Downward Facing Dog Pose

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For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.

Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.

Photo of author
Maria Andrews is a 200h Registered Yoga Teacher, long distance runner, and adventure lover. She finds joy in learning, experiencing, and connecting.

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