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Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

Sphinx Pose, or Salamba Bhujangasana, is a gentle backbend that is accessible to beginners and provides a great way to introduce backbends into your yoga practice. This pose is known for its therapeutic benefits, particularly for the lower back, and is often used in restorative yoga and Yin yoga practices. It opens the chest, strengthens the spine, and helps to calm the mind.

Sphinx Pose

The name Salamba Bhujangasana comes from the Sanskrit words "Salamba," meaning "supported," "Bhujanga," meaning "cobra," and "Asana," meaning "pose." Together, they translate to "Supported Cobra Pose," which reflects the gentle nature of this backend.

Salamba Bhujangasana is pronounced as Sah-LAHM-bah Boo-jang-GAH-sah-nah. Familiarizing yourself with the pronunciation helps to deepen your connection with the practice and its traditional roots.

Anatomy of Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

In Sphinx Pose, several muscle groups and joints work together to create a gentle yet effective backbend:

  • Spine: The lumbar and thoracic regions extend slightly, creating a mild backbend.

  • Chest and Shoulders: Open up, expanding the ribcage and improving respiratory function.

  • Arms and Shoulders: Support the body and provide stability in the pose.

  • Core: Engages gently to support the lower back and maintain alignment.

  • Legs and Glutes: Relax on the mat, providing a stable base.

Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana): Steps and Instructions

Steps to Achieve Salamba Bhujangasana

  1. Start on Your Belly: Lie flat on your stomach with your legs extended behind you. Keep your feet hip-width apart and the tops of your feet pressing into the mat.

  2. Place Your Forearms: Slide your elbows under your shoulders, with your forearms parallel to each other and your fingers spread wide.

  3. Lift Your Chest: On an inhale, press firmly through your forearms and lift your chest and head off the mat. Ensure your shoulders are stacked directly above your elbows.

  4. Engage Your Core: Gently engage your abdominal muscles to support your lower back.

  5. Relax Your Legs: Let your legs remain relaxed on the mat, with your toes pointing straight back.

  6. Hold the Pose: Keep your gaze forward or slightly upward, maintaining a long neck. Hold the pose for several breaths, feeling the gentle stretch along your spine.

  7. Release: To exit the pose, exhale and gently lower your chest and head back to the mat, resting your arms by your sides.

Sphinx Pose

When to Do It

Sphinx Pose can be practiced at any time during your yoga routine, but it is particularly beneficial as a warm-up for deeper backbends or as a restorative pose to unwind at the end of your practice. It can also be included in morning routines to gently wake up the spine and open the chest.

Preparatory Poses

Preparing your body with certain poses can help you perform Salamba Bhujangasana more effectively. Some beneficial preparatory poses include:

  • Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana)

  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

  • Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

These poses help to warm up the spine, open the chest, and build the necessary strength and flexibility.

Follow-Up Poses

After practicing Salamba Bhujangasana, it’s important to follow up with poses that continue to stretch and balance the body. Recommended follow-up poses include:

  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana)

  • Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

These poses help to release tension and restore balance to the spine.


Salamba Bhujangasana is closely associated with the Heart Chakra (Anahata) and the Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura). The Heart Chakra, located at the center of the chest, governs love, compassion, and emotional balance. The Solar Plexus Chakra, located just above the navel, is the center of personal power and self-confidence. Practicing this pose helps to open and balance these chakras, fostering a sense of emotional harmony and inner strength.

Heart Chakra

Mantra for This Pose

A powerful mantra to accompany Salamba Bhujangasana is "Om Shanti," which translates to "Peace." This mantra helps to calm the mind and promote a sense of inner peace and tranquility.

Alignment Cues

To perform Salamba Bhujangasana safely and effectively, pay attention to these alignment cues:

  • Elbows Under Shoulders: Ensure your elbows are directly under your shoulders to support your upper body.

  • Shoulders Away from Ears: Draw your shoulders down and away from your ears to prevent tension in the neck and shoulders.

  • Engage Core: Gently engage your abdominal muscles to support your lower back.

  • Long Neck: Keep your neck long and your gaze forward or slightly upward.

  • Relax Legs: Allow your legs to remain relaxed on the mat, with your toes pointing straight back.

Duration of Hold

For beginners, holding Salamba Bhujangasana for 5-10 breaths is a good start. As you become more comfortable with the pose, you can gradually increase the duration to 15-20 breaths. Always listen to your body and avoid overstraining.


In Salamba Bhujangasana, your gaze (Drishti) can be directed forward or slightly upward, depending on your neck's comfort and flexibility. This helps to maintain focus and balance.

Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physically, Salamba Bhujangasana strengthens the spine, opens the chest, and improves posture. Spiritually, it encourages an open heart and mind, fostering feelings of peace, compassion, and emotional release. The gentle nature of this pose can help cultivate a deeper connection with your inner self and the world around you.

Beginners’ Tips

  • Start Slow: Begin with a shorter hold time and gradually increase as you build strength and flexibility.

  • Use Props: Place a folded blanket or towel under your forearms for additional support and comfort.

  • Focus on Breath: Maintain a steady, even breath to support the pose and reduce tension.

  • Engage Core: Gently engage your core to support your lower back and maintain alignment.

Who Should Not Do It

Salamba Bhujangasana may not be suitable for everyone. Avoid this pose if you have:

  • Recent or chronic back injuries

  • Severe neck issues

  • Pregnancy (particularly in the later stages)

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Always consult with a healthcare professional or experienced yoga instructor before attempting if you have any concerns.

Who Should Do It

Salamba Bhujangasana can be highly beneficial for:

  • Those looking to improve spinal flexibility and strength

  • Individuals wanting to open their chest and shoulders

  • Practitioners aiming to enhance their overall energy and vitality

  • Yogis seeking to balance their Heart and Solar Plexus Chakras

Benefits of Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

The benefits of practicing Salamba Bhujangasana are extensive:

  • Strengthens Spine: Builds strength in the back muscles and improves spinal flexibility.

  • Opens Chest and Shoulders: Enhances respiratory function and posture by opening the chest and stretching the shoulders.

  • Calms Mind: Promotes relaxation and reduces stress by calming the nervous system.

  • Improves Digestion: Stimulates abdominal organs, aiding in digestion.

  • Enhances Circulation: Promotes blood flow throughout the body, enhancing overall vitality.

  • Balances Chakras: Opens and balances the Heart and Solar Plexus Chakras, fostering emotional harmony and inner strength.

Variations of Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

To keep your practice interesting and challenging, you can try these variations:

  1. Extended Sphinx Pose: Walk your hands forward and lift your chest higher for a deeper stretch.

  2. Sphinx Pose with Leg Lift: Lift one leg off the ground to engage your glutes and hamstrings.

  3. Sphinx Pose with Arm Reach: Extend one arm forward for an additional stretch and balance challenge.

Modifications for Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)

If the full pose is challenging, consider these modifications:

  • Forehead Support: Rest your forehead on a folded blanket or towel if lifting your head is uncomfortable.

  • Elbows Wider: Place your elbows slightly wider than shoulder-width apart to reduce strain on the shoulders.

  • Blanket Under Pelvis: Place a folded blanket under your pelvis for additional support and comfort.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these common mistakes to practice Salamba Bhujangasana safely:

  • Collapsing Shoulders: Keep your shoulders away from your ears to prevent tension.

  • Overarching Lower Back: Engage your core to support your lower back and avoid excessive arching.

  • Holding Breath: Maintain a steady and even breath throughout the pose.

  • Rushing the Lift: Take your time to lift into the pose gradually, avoiding sudden movements.

Safety and Precautions

  • Warm-Up: Always warm up your body before attempting this pose.

  • Listen to Your Body: If you feel any pain or discomfort, come out of the pose immediately.

  • Seek Guidance: Work with a certified yoga instructor, especially if you are new to this pose.

Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face

Face east on your mat to maintain proper alignment and focus during the pose.

What to Wear

Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows full range of motion. Avoid loose clothing that could interfere with your practice.

Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Practice in a quiet, calm space. Enhance your practice with calming essential oils such as lavender or sandalwood to create a soothing environment.

Music for This Pose

Choose calming, instrumental music or nature sounds to maintain a relaxed and focused state of mind.

Salamba Bhujangasana, or Sphinx Pose, is a beautiful and accessible yoga pose that offers numerous physical and spiritual benefits. By incorporating this gentle backbend into your practice, you can strengthen your spine, open your heart, and cultivate a deeper sense of peace and tranquility. Remember to approach the pose with mindfulness, respect your body's limits, and enjoy the journey towards greater flexibility and emotional harmony.

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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