Salamba Bhujangasana: Sphinx Pose

Salamba Bhujangasana: Sphinx Pose

Related to the cobra pose, the sphinx pose is a more restorative way to stretch and lengthen the spine. Salamba bhujangasana (SA-lumb-aa BHU-jung-AAHS-uh-nuh) is one of the gentlest backbends in a yoga practice, making it a great entry point for beginners and an effective warm up at the beginning of practice. Sphinx pose is also a great way to reduce stress and stimulate the abdominal organs.

Philosophy + Origin

Cobras and snakes can evoke feelings of fear, discomfort, and disgust. But in Vedic traditions, the cobra symbolizes overcoming and mastering fear. Nataraja, an incarnation of Shiva, is often portrayed with a cobra draped around his neck. The cobra’s venom is said to represent avidya, or ignorance — the veil that prevents us from recognizing universal truths. By mastering fear and learning to see beyond the surface we can come to know freedom, or liberation.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Use a blanket under your forearms or pelvis for added comfort.
  • Bring your gaze to the floor for a neck release and stretch.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Lie down on your stomach. Place your forearms parallel to each other with elbows under your shoulders and palms facing the ground.
  2. Place the tops of your feet on the ground and rotate the inseam of your pants toward the ceiling.
  3. Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.
  4. Focus on your lower abdomen, drawing your low belly slightly away from the floor.
  5. Hold the pose for up to 10 deep breaths. Exhale while slowly releasing down to the floor. Rest on the floor, head turned to one side.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

  • Belly-down savasana

SANSKRIT:

  • Salamba = supported
  • Bhujang = cobra
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches and lengthens the spine.
  • Stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders, and abdomen.
  • Firms the glutes.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Relieves stress.
  • Calms the mind.
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Virabhadrasana III: Warrior III Pose

Virabhadrasana III: Warrior III Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS   |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Warrior III, or virabhadrasana (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-ah-nah) III, is a challenging pose of balance and strength.

Philosophy + Origin

A fierce warrior, Virabhadra is often depicted as having a thousand heads, eyes, and feet. Draped in the skin of a tiger, this warrior wields a thousand clubs. In Virabhadra’s origin story, he is created from a single dreadlock from Shiva’s head, a manifestation of the rage he feels upon feeling like his true love has died. The shape of virabhadrasana III comes from this story, the moment when Virabhadra beheads the king Daksha and extends forward to place the head on a stake.

Despite the outward appearance and violent origin, this powerful pose is actually a great reminder of our own inner strength and the measures we would take in the name of true love.

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