Bhujangasana (Sanskrit: भुजङ्गासन; IAST: Bhujaṅgāsana) or Cobra Pose is a reclining back-bending asana in hatha yoga and modern yoga as exercise. It is commonly performed in a cycle of asanas in Surya Namaskar (Salute to the Sun) as an alternative to Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upwards Dog Pose).
Etymology and origins
The name comes from the Sanskrit words भुजङ्ग bhujaṅga, "snake" or "cobra" and आसन āsana, "posture" or "seat", from the resemblance to a cobra with its hood raised. The pose is described in the 17th century hatha yoga text Gheranda Samhita 2.42-43. In the 19th century Sritattvanidhi, the pose is named Sarpasana, which similarly means Serpent Pose.
The pose may be entered from a prone position or from Downward Dog. The palms are placed under the shoulders, pushing down until the hips lift slightly. The backs of the feet rest on the ground, the legs outstretched; the gaze is directed forwards, giving the preparatory pose. For the full pose, the back is arched until the arms are straight, and the gaze is directed straight upwards or a little backwards. The legs remain on the ground, unlike in the similar Upward Dog pose.
An easier variant is Sphinx Pose, sometimes called Salamba Bhujangasana (षलम्ब भुजङ्गासन), in which the forearms rest on the ground, giving a gentler backbend. It is used in the long holds of Yin Yoga, either with the forearms on the ground or with the arms straightened.
The pose can be modified, for instance in pregnancy, by placing a blanket under the pelvis.
Twentieth century advocates of some schools of yoga, such as B. K. S. Iyengar, made claims for the therapeutic effects of yoga on specific organs, without adducing any evidence. Iyengar claimed that this pose was a "panacea for an injured spine" and would undo "slight displacement of spinal discs".
Common postural errors during this asana include overarching the neck and lower back. One recommendation is to keep the gaze directed down at the floor and focus on bringing movement into the area between the shoulder blades (the thoracic area, or middle back).
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Sphinx Pose is the infant of backbends.
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