This posture rewards you with most of the same benefits as cobra I, which we describe in the preceding section. In addition, cobra II emphasizes flexibility in your lower back.
The following steps walk you through cobra II:
1. Lie on your abdomen with your legs spread at hip width and the tops of your feet on the floor.
2. Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor with your thumbs near your armpits.
Rest your forehead on the floor and relax your shoulders, as shown in Figure 11-2a.
Cobra II emphasizes flexibility in the lower back.
3. As you inhale, press your palms against the floor, engage your back muscles, and raise your chest and head.
Look straight ahead (see Figure 11-2b). Keep the top front of your pelvis on the floor and your shoulders relaxed. Unless you're very flexible, keep your elbows slightly bent.
4. As you exhale, lower your torso and head slowly back to the floor.
5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 three times and then stay in Step 3 (the last raised position) for 6 to 8 breaths.
Note: In the classic (traditionally taught) posture, the inner legs are joined and the knees are straight. The head is in alignment with the spine and the eyes look forward. The palms are on the floor close to the sides of the torso near the navel, the elbows are slightly bent and the shoulders relaxed.
If you move your hands farther forward, the cobra is less difficult; if you move your hands farther back you increase the difficulty.
The Sanskrit word bhujangasana is composed of bhujanga (pronounced bhooj-ahng-gah), meaning "serpent," and asana, or "posture."
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