Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose
Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) is a great way to strengthen the upper back and is often practiced as part of a transition back to downward-facing dog in vinyasa yoga. Practicing cobra pose regularly can improve your lung capacity, reduce stress, and stimulate many of the internal organs in your body.
Philosophy + Origin
Although often perceived as evil or dangerous, snakes also have a rich history of power and worship. In some yoga traditions, the energy of kundalini is represented by a serpent resting coiled at the base of the spine. By awakening this snake, we enliven our body’s energy and create a pathway towards enlightenment. This connection with enlightenment is also seen in many portrayals of the Buddha where he is shown with a cobra over his head.
- Option to swap cobra pose for sphinx pose by placing your forearms on the floor.
- Lengthen the back of the neck to avoid straining the neck and upper back.
- If you experience discomfort in the lower back, bend the elbows more.
- Lie on the floor on your belly. Extend your legs behind you with the tops of your feet on the floor. Place your hands palm down on the floor a couple inches away from your shoulders. Squeeze your elbows towards your body rather than letting them splay out to the sides.
- Press firmly down through the tops of your feet and your thighs. Draw your tailbone toward the ground.
- On an inhale, reach your chest forward and up. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
- Stay here or press into your palms and begin to straighten your elbows. Keep your legs engaged as you lift your chest forward and up.
- Stay in the pose for up to 30 seconds.
- To release, lower your body as you exhale and rest on the floor.
- Upward-facing dog | Urdhva mukha svanasana
- Upward-facing bow pose | Urdhva dhanurasana
- Camel pose | Ustrasana
- Bhujanga = snake
- Asana = pose
- Strengthens muscles of the back
- Increases flexibility in the spine
- Strengthens glutes
- Relieves stress and fatigue
- Awakens kundalini
- Opens heart and throat chakras
Uttanasana: Standing Forward Bend
A soothing posture for body and mind, uttanasana (OOT-tan-AHS-ahna), or standing forward bend, is straightforward but far from simple. Requiring flexibility in hamstrings, hips, and calves, uttanasana also requires patience. Watch the ebbs and flows in your body and life reflected in this simple posture.
Philosophy + Origin
In uttanasana, knowing when to accept intensity and when to be content with where you are is key to steady progress without injury or frustration. It’s easy to try to push for more — with uttanasana, this means wanting to be more flexible or pushing further into the pose. Rather than struggling, use the posture to practice santosha (contentment). Can you accept both the intensity and your capacity right now?