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Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): A Deep Dive into the Benefits and Practice

Cobra Pose, known as Bhujangasana in Sanskrit, is a fundamental backbend in yoga that strengthens the spine, opens the chest, and invigorates the body. This pose is not only physically beneficial but also brings a sense of empowerment and rejuvenation. Let's explore this pose in-depth, from its origins to its myriad benefits, and learn how to incorporate it seamlessly into your practice.

Cobra Pose

Cobra Pose is a gentle yet powerful backbend that stretches the chest, shoulders, and abdomen while strengthening the spine. Named for its resemblance to a cobra with its hood raised, this pose is an integral part of many yoga sequences, particularly in Sun Salutations. It helps to improve posture, increase flexibility, and can even boost your mood.

The term "Bhujangasana" is derived from two Sanskrit words: "Bhujanga," meaning cobra or serpent, and "Asana," meaning pose or posture. The pose imitates the raised hood of a cobra, symbolizing strength, flexibility, and alertness.

The pronunciation of Bhujangasana is "Bhoo-jang-AAH-suh-nuh." Breaking it down:

  • "Bhu" sounds like "boo"

  • "Jang" sounds like "jung"

  • "Asana" sounds like "aa-suh-nuh"

Anatomy of Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Cobra Pose primarily targets the following areas:

  • Spine: It extends and strengthens the spine.

  • Chest and Lungs: Opens the chest, increasing lung capacity.

  • Shoulders and Arms: Engages and strengthens the shoulders and triceps.

  • Abdomen: Stretches the abdominal muscles.

  • Hips: Engages the gluteal muscles and provides a gentle stretch to the hip flexors.

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): Steps and Instructions

  1. Start Lying on Your Belly: Lie face down on your mat with your legs extended behind you and the tops of your feet pressing into the mat.

  2. Position Your Hands: Place your hands under your shoulders, elbows close to your body.

  3. Engage Your Legs: Firm your thighs and press the tops of your feet into the floor.

  4. Inhale and Lift: On an inhalation, gently lift your head, chest, and upper abdomen off the floor. Keep your lower ribs on the mat and use your back muscles rather than pushing with your hands.

  5. Elbows Bent: Keep a slight bend in your elbows and press them close to your sides.

  6. Open Your Chest: Draw your shoulder blades down and back, opening through the chest.

  7. Hold and Breathe: Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds, breathing deeply.

  8. Release: Exhale and slowly lower your torso back to the mat.

Cobra Pose

When to Do It

Cobra Pose can be performed at the beginning of your practice as part of your warm-up routine or integrated into a series of backbends. It’s particularly beneficial in the morning to awaken the spine and energize the body.

Preparatory Poses

Before practicing Cobra Pose, warm up with these poses:

  • Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana): To warm up the spine.

  • Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana): To prepare for a deeper backbend.

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana): To gently stretch the back and relax the body.

Follow Up Poses

After Cobra Pose, it’s essential to neutralize the spine with these poses:

  • Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana): To lengthen the spine and release tension.

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana): To stretch the back and relax.

  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana): To stretch the back and hamstrings.


Cobra Pose is associated with the Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra. Located in the abdomen, this chakra is linked to personal power, confidence, and self-esteem. Practicing Bhujangasana can help to unblock and energize the Manipura Chakra, enhancing your sense of self and inner strength.

Solar Plexus Chakra

Mantra for This Pose

A powerful mantra to chant while in Cobra Pose is "Ram," the bija (seed) mantra for the Solar Plexus Chakra. This mantra evokes the fire element, promoting transformation and inner power.


Alignment Cues

  • Feet Together or Hip-Width Apart: Depending on your comfort, keep your feet together or hip-width apart.

  • Elbows Close: Keep your elbows close to your body to engage your back muscles effectively.

  • Shoulders Down: Draw your shoulders away from your ears.

  • Lengthen Through the Crown: Extend through the crown of your head to avoid compressing the neck.

  • Engage the Core: Use your core muscles to support your lower back.

Duration of Hold

Hold Cobra Pose for 15-30 seconds, focusing on deep, steady breaths. As you become more comfortable with the pose, you can gradually increase the duration.

Drishti (Gaze)

In Cobra Pose, your drishti, or gaze, should be slightly upward or forward, aligning with the direction of the spine’s extension.

Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physically, Cobra Pose enhances flexibility, strengthens the spine, and opens the chest. Spiritually, it awakens the inner fire, promoting confidence, vitality, and a sense of empowerment. It encourages you to lift your heart and spirit, embracing your inner strength and resilience.

Beginners’ Tips

  • Start Small: Begin with a gentle lift, using minimal hand pressure to build back strength.

  • Use a Rolled Towel: Place a rolled towel under your pelvis for additional support.

  • Focus on Alignment: Prioritize correct alignment over the height of the lift to avoid strain.

Who Should Not Do It

  • Pregnant Women: Due to the pressure on the abdomen, this pose is not recommended during pregnancy.

  • Severe Back Pain: Those with severe back issues should avoid this pose or consult a healthcare provider.

  • Recent Abdominal Surgery: Avoid if you have had recent surgery in the abdominal area.

Who Should Do It

  • Desk Workers: To counteract the effects of prolonged sitting and poor posture.

  • Athletes: For spinal flexibility and to open the chest and shoulders.

  • Anyone Seeking Confidence: To energize the Solar Plexus Chakra and boost self-esteem.

Benefits of Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

Physical Benefits

  • Strengthens the Spine: Enhances spinal flexibility and strength.

  • Opens the Chest: Improves lung capacity and breathing.

  • Stretches the Abdomen: Promotes digestive health.

  • Relieves Stress: Reduces fatigue and stress through gentle back extension.

  • Improves Posture: Counteracts the effects of slouching and poor posture.

Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Boosts Confidence: Activates the Solar Plexus Chakra, enhancing self-esteem and inner power.

  • Reduces Anxiety: Promotes a sense of calm and relaxation.

  • Increases Energy: Invigorates the body and mind, reducing feelings of lethargy.

Variations of Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

  • Baby Cobra: Lift only the chest and upper abdomen, keeping your elbows bent.

  • Extended Cobra: Straighten your arms fully, deepening the backbend.

  • One-Legged Cobra: Lift one leg slightly off the floor for added challenge.

Modifications for Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

  • Use Blocks: Place yoga blocks under your hands for added height and support.

  • Lower Lift: Keep the lift minimal, focusing on the engagement of the back muscles.

  • Hands Further Forward: Position your hands slightly forward of your shoulders to reduce strain on the lower back.

Common Mistakes

  • Overarching the Neck: Avoid compressing the neck by keeping the gaze slightly forward.

  • Collapsing the Lower Back: Engage your core to support and lengthen the lower back.

  • Elbows Flaring: Keep your elbows close to your body to engage the back muscles correctly.

  • Shoulders Hunched: Draw your shoulders away from your ears to open the chest.

Safety and Precautions

  • Warm Up Properly: Always warm up your body before attempting Cobra Pose.

  • Listen to Your Body: Do not push into pain; ease off if you feel discomfort.

  • Use Props: Modify the pose with props to ensure proper alignment and support.

Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face While Doing This Pose and Why

Face east during your practice, traditionally associated with new beginnings and positive energy in yoga.

What to Wear for This Pose

Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows freedom of movement. Avoid overly loose garments that might bunch up during the pose.

Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Practice in a quiet, clean space. Enhance the experience with invigorating essential oils like eucalyptus or uplifting scents like citrus.

Music for This Pose

Choose soothing, uplifting music or nature sounds to create a peaceful atmosphere and help you focus inward.

Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) is a transformative backbend that offers numerous physical and mental benefits. Whether you’re looking to strengthen your spine, open your heart, or boost your confidence, this pose provides a holistic approach to wellness. By practicing mindfulness and proper alignment, you can unlock the full potential of Bhujangasana, embracing both its physical and spiritual gifts. So, roll out your mat, lift your heart, and let the power of Cobra Pose inspire and rejuvenate you.

Happy yoga-ing!


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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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