Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) is a great way to stretch the chest and shoulders, and is often practiced as part of a transition back to downward-facing dog. Practicing cobra pose regularly can improve your lung capacity, reduce stress, and stimulate many of the internal organs in your body.
Start by lying 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 elbow. Keep your legs engaged as you lift your chest forward and up.
If you feel too much of the pose in your lower back, bend the elbows more. If you feel too much in your shoulders, focus on engaging the legs and keeping the shoulder blades drawing down.
Stay in the pose for up to 30 seconds. To release, lower your body as you exhale and rest on the floor.
Although often perceived as evil or dangerous, snakes also have a rich history of power and worship. In some yoga traditions, the snake known as Kundalini rests 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.