Step by Step Instructions for Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
Lie on the front of the body, legs straight and soles of feet upwards and forehead or nose on the mat.
Place the palms of the hands (fingers together) on the mat, keeping the upper arms in contact with the sides of the body and the elbows pointing backwards.
Relax the whole body, particularly focus on relaxing the spine and the buttocks.
On inhalation, slowly raise the shoulders, neck and head, using the back muscles to lift. Gently continue to lift pressing the hands down and using the arm muscles.
Be aware that you are using the back muscles more than the arms.
On exhalation, gently lower – again using first the arms and pressure through the hands and then use the back muscles to come down to the ground, to the start position.
Develop the posture with the breath to begin with. When the back is comfortable with the bend try to hold – developing the length of time in the position.
In the final position, the hips and pubic bone remain in contact with the mat and the navel is lifted to a maximum of 3cm. The arms remain soft so that there is no danger of locking the elbows and sinking down in between the shoulder blades.
Regarding the head, opinion is split. I favour feeling length in the back of the neck, but you can and it feels good to you, tilt the chin upwards to curve the cervical spine.
The arch of the spine should feel balanced and smooth, certainly with no ‘tweeks’ or feelings of compression. If this is happening to you, then you need to reduce the arch somewhat and you may need to consider building up strength in your back muscles and flexibility in the vertebral joints with other asana before tackling this posture. If you speak to me in class I can advise what is best for you.