Bhujanga means "serpent," and the cobra is a sacred and revered serpent in India. But what is a serpent? Basically, one big spine! In the cobra pose, bhujangasana (pronounced BOO-jhan-GAH-sah-nah), concentrate on allowing the strength of your spine to move you. The cobra pose helps to align your spinal disks, open up your heart chakra, and strengthen your back. It also strengthens your nervous system and your eyes.
When practicing the cobra pose, keep your elbows in toward the body. As your shoulders rise off the floor, don't scrunch them up around your neck. Keep your eyes open and peering up to tone your peripheral vision (typically the first part of the eyesight to degenerate).
1. Lie on your stomach, flat on the floor, with your heels and toes together. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your chest. Rest your forehead on the floor (you might want to use a mat for this one).
2. Inhale and lift your forehead, then chin, then shoulders, then chest off the floor. Keep your hips pressed against the floor.
3. Look upward and breathe. Try sticking out your tongue and opening your mouth wide to help release your face. Then return to the starting position.
4. Yoga Adventure: Does a snake have arms? Of course not! You shouldn't rely on your arms for this pose. To see how much you are using your arms as a support, lift your palms off the floor, as you see in the second figure in the drawing. How much of your body comes down? If it's a lot, your arms are doing a good portion of the work. Don't go up so high just yet. Let your spine do the work.
A Yoga Minute
Some doctors believe many cases of back pain are psychologically caused. Deep stress or emotional problems may manifest themselves as a backache.
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