What Is the Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) in Yoga? Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes

Cobra pose helps in enhancing flexibility. (image via Pexels / Алекке Блажин)
Cobra pose helps in enhancing flexibility. (image via Pexels / Алекке Блажин)

The Cobra pose is often a yoga pose done within an Asana sequence, but it's also popular enough for many people to practice it separately.

It's also one of the few yoga poses that everyone should attempt at least once, no matter their strength or flexibility. If you want to master even basic backbends, Cobra is a must-do, and there are many ways you can do this pose.

If you're new to exercise, this pose is a great choice, as it's low impact and doesn't require much flexibility. The aim here is to nurture, challenge and heal the torso so that it can support your yoga practice as you go deeper.

How to Do the Cobra Pose the Right Way?

To avoid excessive tension in your back, neck or shoulders, it's key to practice Cobra Pose in the proper form. Beginners should learn this pose under the supervision of a trained yoga instructor.

Cobra pose. (Image credits: Pexels/ Monstera Production)
Cobra pose. (Image credits: Pexels/ Monstera Production)

Here's a step-by-step tutorial to help you practice this position diligently and with attention to body alignment:

  • Lie down on your mat with your palms flat under your shoulders and elbows bent back at a 90-degree angle.
  • Hug your elbows into your sides, and pause for a moment looking at the floor.
  • Keeping your pubic bone anchored to the floor, inhale as you lift your chest off the ground.
  • Remember to roll your shoulders back, and keep your low ribs on the floor.
  • Don’t let them wing out to either side, or let your neck cranked up in space.
  • Keep looking at the floor while doing this pose.

Tips and Techniques for Performing Cobra Pose

Here are some tips to make sure you're doing the cobra pose correctly and getting the most out of it:

Try to relax: It's important to begin slowly, even if it means only lifting your feet a few inches off the ground to build strength and ensure good alignment.

Make use of your legs: Ensure that your feet are firmly planted on the mat, your knee caps are lifted, and your quadriceps are engaged.

Free up space: Pull your upper body forward and up while pulling your legs back and down to relieve any pressure in your lower back.

Relax: As many muscles are engaged in the cobra pose, it's normal that they could become stiff, but it's critical to keep your shoulders relaxed and your breath steady. Maintain a relaxed posture with your shoulders plugged into your upper back rather than stiff near your ears.

Play around with the weight on your hands: Your hands will support you, so put a little more weight on them as you gain strength, but try lifting them off the mat for a second or two (if it's comfortable) and lifting with only your back muscles.

Benefits of Cobra Pose

1) Helps in reducing depression

Reduces anxiety and depression. (Image via Pexels / Pixabay)
Reduces anxiety and depression. (Image via Pexels / Pixabay)

A study found that people who practiced Hatha yoga for eight weeks and did Cobra Pose twice a week had significant improvement in their mild to moderate depression.

The health benefits of Cobra pose may also be helpful to people experiencing chronic mental illness. In fact, one study found that a sustained or long-term yoga practice can lead to improvements in depressive symptoms.

2) Reduces lower back pain

Helps with lower back pain. (Image via Pexels / Karolina Grabowska)
Helps with lower back pain. (Image via Pexels / Karolina Grabowska)

One study found that people who practiced yoga for 12 weeks reported an improvement in self-reported lower back pain as well as anxiety related to chronic pain.

The study did not find significant physical changes in the intervertebral discs, but it was worth noting that participants said they experienced relief from pain. The Cobra Pose may be a cost-effective alternative or complementary treatment to physical therapy or pharmacotherapy.

3) Cobra Pose can help you sleep

Sleep quality is improved. (Image via Pexels / Rachel Claire)
Sleep quality is improved. (Image via Pexels / Rachel Claire)

Studies show that women with type 2 diabetes who practiced yoga and Cobra Pose for 18 weeks experienced improved sleep quality compared to ones who engaged in aerobic activity.

A 2017 study also found that 12 weeks of yoga that included Cobra Pose improved sleep quality among women with sleep apnea.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

• Keep your hands placed underneath your shoulders, and be sure not to straighten your arms so much that your elbows are locked.

• Allow yourself to bend your elbows slightly, or maintain a 90-degree angle with your arms. Your elbows should be facing backwards rather than out to the sides. This is a technique that uses your back muscles rather than your arms.

• Because the lower back is more flexible than the upper back, you may find that you have greater flex in that area. Try to maintain a consistent curve throughout your entire back. Don't overextend your neck backward; it should be arched in a natural extension of the upper spine.

Cobra Pose is a great pose to not only loosen the spine and stretch the muscles, but also to enhance your real-life backends.

Moreover, it is said to invigorate the large intestine and increase gastric fire, which helps in digesting food more effectively. This pose (Bhujangasana) is one of the best yoga asanas, as it promotes overall strength and health of your body.

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Edited by Bhargav