Cobra pose (Bhujangasana) is easy enough for beginners, but there are a surprisingly high number of mistakes made by yogis of all levels. From the feet to the buttocks, hands to the elbows, and shoulders to the head, there are many mistakes students can make.
When Cobra pose is practiced correctly, it brings beautiful benefits:
- A rich blood supply to the spinal nerves
- A powerful stretch to the spine
- A gentle massage to the abdominal organs
- Beneficial stimulation to the female reproductive organs
Here are seven common mistakes that will keep you from reaping all of Bhujangasana's power!
Mistake # 1: Wrong hand placement
Make sure that your hands are positioned correctly before you lift your head and chest from the floor. If your hands are too far away from your body, you’ll likely end up jamming your shoulders toward your ears—a Bhujangasana no-no. Before lifting, your hands should be next to your chest and under your shoulders—thumbs in line with your nipples. Spread your fingers wide and point your middle fingers forward.
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Mistake #2: Locking the elbows
Locked elbows create the same problem as having your hands too far away from you; this may cause you to jam your shoulders toward your ears. Bend your arms, so you can melt your shoulders down your back, or if you are flexible just keep a minibend in your arms.
Mistake # 3: Jamming the neck
In the classical version of Cobra pose, the neck is arched back in a graceful extension of the spine. This healthy arc can easily turn into unhealthily throwing the head backwards. To maintain length in the upper spine, gaze directly forward or diagonally downward.
Mistake #4: Crunching the low back
Cobra isn’t about how high you can lift but about your spinal extension. Peel yourself off the floor one vertebra at a time to create a beautiful, even arc. If your arc is turning into more of an L shape, you’ve come up too high and should lower a few inches to avoid crunching your low back.
Mistake #5: Clenching the buttocks
There is a temptation to squeeze the buttocks in this pose, but this only compresses the low back. Consciously release these muscles by rolling your inner thighs toward the sky.
Mistake #6: Crowding the feet
It’s okay to have your feet together in low Cobra pose, but if you’re rising into extended Cobra, they should be at least hip-distance wide to lessen pressure on the low back. Point your feet straight back and heels toward the sky.
Mistake #7: Lifting the hips
This isn’t Upward-Facing Dog. Cobra pose uses the back muscles to maintain the lift rather than the arms and legs. While keeping the hips on the floor, use your back muscles—instead of brute arm strength—to lift your torso, stopping just before your hips lift from the floor.
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