The cobra posture increases the flexibility and strength of the muscles of the arms, chest, shoulders, and back. Cobra I especially emphasizes the upper back. The cobra opens the chest, increases lung capacity, and stimulates the kidneys and the adrenals.
This first cobra posture is also called The Sphinx. It's a variation of of bhu-jangasana, which we describe in the next section. To do this first version of cobra, follow these steps:
1. Lie on your abdomen with your legs spread at hip width and the tops of your feet on the floor.
2. Rest your forehead on the floor and relax your shoulders; bend your elbows and place your forearms on the floor with your palms turned down and positioned near the sides of your head (see Figure 11-1a).
Cobra I emphasizes the upper back and is easier than cobra II.
3. As you inhale, engage your back muscles, press your forearms against the floor, and raise your chest and head.
Look straight ahead, as shown in Figure 11-1b. Keep your forearms and the front of your pelvis on the floor, being mindful of relaxing your shoulders.
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.
If you have lower back problems, separate your legs wider than your hips and let your heels turn out and your toes turn in.
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