Punxsutawney Phil, North America’s most famous groundhog, isn’t the only one emerging from winter-time hibernation these days. As the days grow just a bit longer, we, like the crocuses and other early-blooming bulbs, are all eager to emerge from our season of more time spent indoors and come outside to soak up the sun for a few extra minutes each day.
As always, it seems, there’s a perfect asana for that.
In bhujangasana, or cobra pose, we imitate all the other flora and fauna who are just beginning to emerge at this time of year, and while we’re at it, we can begin to compensate for all those hours spent sitting indoors this winter, with an energizing pose that can help alleviate depression and back pain and send us into spring and summer more upright.
Jason Crandell, writing for Yoga Journal, offers a step-by-step approach to cobra, which leads practitioners from sphinx to more advanced versions of cobra, providing us with a clear path for our practice of this asana this month. He begins with this important piece of advice:
“Here’s a way to radically rethink your backbends: Size doesn’t matter. To reap the physical, energetic, and therapeutic effects of backbends, you don’t have to create the deepest arch. Just think of creating a smooth, even arc in your spine. Rather than searching for intensity, search for evenness. You’ll know you’ve found it when your lower, middle, and upper back all have the same degree of sensation.
Cobra Pose and its variations may seem like small movements—they’re sometimes referred to as baby backbends—but they set the foundation for deeper backbends because they teach you how to work your legs, pelvis, and belly. When Cobra is done correctly, your legs provide the power and support for your spine to gracefully extend, and your pelvis and belly act together to decompress and support your lower back, which has a tendency to overarch. As you practice each variation of Cobra, be patient and curious. Observe how your spine feels and savor the sensations in your body.”
For Crandell’s full article, including detailed instructions for sphinx, low-cobra, cobra, and beyond, click here.
This month, as Crandell leads us from sphinx to cobra and beyond, what will you discover? We’re eager to hear about it. Come back here throughout the month and share your experience with cobra — and its influence on the rest of your practice, here in the comments section.