Seal Pose (Bhujangasana)

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

bhujanga (cobra) + asana (posture)

Also Known as: Cobra Pose Arms Spread Variation, Bhujangasana Arms Spread Variation, Yin Yoga Seal Pose

Pose Type: Backbend, Back Pain, Sciatica

Difficulty: Beginner

a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing seal pose

Rise up into your seal pose with intention and full spinal awareness

Seal Pose Fundamentals

Seal Pose is a deeper variation to Sphinx Pose, and whilst they are both backbends that target the same lower lumbar area, Seal Pose is more active and allows for greater curvature of the spine.

Ever wondered why it’s called Seal Pose? Take a look at this majestic animal in a less yogic seal pose (also known as Seal Banana Pose) to see why:

a seal sitting on a rock in front of the ocean

Benefits of The Seal Pose

  • The Seal Pose restores the natural curvature of the lower spine. This is fantastic for those who spend the day seated at a desk with a rounded spine.
  • Seal Pose gently stretches the front body providing a light ssqueeze and massage to the internal organs.
  • If you lean your head back in Seal Pose, it is said to stimulate the thyroid gland.

How To Do The Seal Pose: Step-By-Step

a gif of a woman doing seal pose

How to get there:

1. Begin lying on your stomach with your legs a comfortable distance apart.

2. Place your palms down on the as wide as the mat, or maybe wider, and wherever feels available to you.

3. Carefully and mindfully straighten the arms. If this is too intense, slide the palms further away from your torso or wider. If you are after more of a stretch, walk the fingers back towards you.

4. You can keep a neutral neck here, drop it down for a stretch down the back of your neck, or you can drop your head backward if it feels good for you.

5. Relax your glutes, press into the tops of your feet, and hold the pose for as long as you like.

6. When you are ready to come out of Seal Pose, gently lower your chest to the mat and lie your forehead to rest on the backs of your hands.

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

Tips And Tricks:

  • Explore how it feels when you move your legs further apart and closer together. Notice how the position of your legs affect the sensations in your spine and sacrum.
  • For a deeper stretch bend the knees and enhance the length created in your lower lumbar.
  • If you feel an uncomfortable compression in your pubic bone in Seal Pose, place a folded blanket underneath the area.

Seal Pose Variations: Supported Seal Pose

a man wearing black yoga clothes doing supoprted seal pose with a rolled up blanket under his chest

For a Seal Pose that allows for deeper relaxation, a peeling back of the layers, wedge a bolster, pillow, or rolled up blanket under the chest. This can take some pressure off the wrists whilst still allowing the spine to compress and release.

Precautions & Contraindications:

Pregnancy:

If you are pregnant, Seal Pose can still be accessible to you so long as you make appropriate modifications. You can use a bolster or large pillow to elevate your hips so that your belly doesn’t make any contact with the mat.

Otherwise, flip the posture and come into a Supported Bridge Pose for the same lower back stretch with no risk of belly compression.

Vertebral injury in the lumbar spine / SI joint:

If you have injured your SI joint or lumbar spine, be careful in this pose. It may still be accessible to you with the use of props. However, if you feel any sharp shooting pains or a pinching sensation in the spine, this pose is best left alone.

Preparatory Poses:

Baby Cobra Pose

Sphinx Pose

Cat-Cow Pose

Counter Poses:

Child’s Pose

Reclined Twist

yogajala break 1000 × 40 px 1

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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