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.
- Use a blanket under your forearms or pelvis for added comfort.
- Bring your gaze to the floor for a neck release and stretch.
- Lie down on your stomach. Place your forearms parallel to each other with elbows under your shoulders and palms facing the ground.
- Place the tops of your feet on the ground and rotate the inseam of your pants toward the ceiling.
- Lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.
- Focus on your lower abdomen, drawing your low belly slightly away from the floor.
- 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.
- Salamba = supported
- Bhujang = cobra
- Asana = pose
- Stretches and lengthens the spine.
- Stretches the chest, lungs, shoulders, and abdomen.
- Firms the glutes.
- Relieves stress.
- Calms the mind.
Ustrasana: Camel Pose
Ustrasana (oosh-TRAHS-anna), offers a long list of benefits for both the physical and subtle bodies. Thanks to its many different variations and modifications, there are plenty of ways for individuals of all levels to appreciate the chest-opening and chakra-opening effects of camel pose.
Philosophy + Origin
Camel pose is named because the shape resembles the hump on a camel’s back, however there are other ways to consider the name when approaching the posture. Camels are known for their slow, steady, almost methodical way of moving. Rather than trying to race into the posture, moving slowly and methodically will help you find its benefits safely. Camels use their humps as food reserves, like well-packed bags ready to be used when needed. This type of physical preparation, a part of the camel’s natural adaptation for survival, is essential for this pose as well. Take your time to gather and practice the skills and knowledge necessary to take a back-bending journey to ensure that you come in and out of the posture with ease and poise.