Yoga in a GIF-y: Bhujangasana

Nothing gets into shoulder stiffness quite like Bhujangasana, Cobra pose.

This backbend is a juicy chest opener that not only strengthens the back but, when done correctly, engages the entire body.

Cobra pose begins from actively spreading your toes onto the mat - the legs are also active feeding into the pelvis and supporting the arch of your spine. The arms hug the sides of your body and the shoulders relax away from the ears to create space around the neck.

I recommend that you start with Baby Cobra pose (image 3 in the GIF) with a mild curve in the spine before progressing to a deeper Cobra. In Baby Cobra, lift the hands a few inches off the floor while keeping the back and core muscles engaged. Once you’re comfortable staying here for a few breaths, you can move into the full version of the pose.

Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Lie down on your belly with your arms down by your sides, forehead on the mat.

  2. Bring your palms onto the mat in line with your chest, elbows pointing back towards the feet.

  3. On an inhale, strengthen the legs and peel your forehead and chest off the floor moving into Baby Cobra. Lift the hands a few inches off the floor while maintaining the same lift in the chest.

  4. f and when you’re ready to move to a deeper backbend, bring the palms back on the mat and begin to straighten the arms. Depending on your body proportions the arms may or may not straighten all the way. Shoulders and legs are engaged.

  5. Find the height that is comfortable for you in this pose making sure that even at your highest, the legs and pubis maintain contact with the floor.

  6. Hold for 3 to 5 cycles of breath.

  7. On an exhale, lower your chest onto the floor.

  8. Make a pillow with your hands and rest your forehead as you rock your hips from side to side - softening any tightness in the lower back.