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Yoga Postures Step-by-Step: Naga-asana - The CObra Pose

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Yoga Postures Step-by-Step


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Posture: Naga-asana - The Cobra Pose


Translation: The Sanskrit word naga means snake or serpent.
The naga-asana is also known as the bhujangaasana. The Sanskrit word bhujanga, which also
means snake, is derived from the root bhuj which
means to bend or curve.
Pronunciation: na-gah-sa-na
Difficulty: (4-5)
"Let the body, from navel to toes, touch the ground, the
palms placed upon the ground, and raise gently the upper
part of the body (from navel to head) like a snake. This
posture increases the gastric fire; it destroys all diseases and
by constant practice leads to the awakening of Kundalini."
The Gheranda-samhita II.42-43.

Instructions:
1. Lie on the stomach with the head turned to one side and the arms alongside the body with
palms facing upward.
2. Turn the head and place the chin on the floor. Inhale then exhale slowly through the
nostrils and swing the arms around until the hands are placed just below the chin with the
palms down and the finger tips of each hand almost touching and the elbows on the floor.
3. Inhale slowly through the nostrils, press down on the hands and lift the torso from the
waist up off the floor, arching the spine backwards and straightening the arms. Keep the
hips on the floor.
4. Tilt the head as far back as possible and hold the posture for the duration of the inhaled
breath.
5. Exhale and reverse the process to return to position #1.

Comments:
If you find it uncomfortable holding the breath while the posture is held, breath gently through
the nostrils. Some may find that they are able to arch the spine back even more than in the
initial arch in step 3. In this case try "walking" the hands toward the pelvic region and stretching
the head further back.
In addition to the obvious benefits to the spine and lower back, the standard variation of the
naga-asana strengthens the wrists and stretches the muscles in the chest. By maintaining a
constant exertion to create a greater arch in the spine, the stomach and pelvic muscles are
strengthened. Greater strength in these areas can be cultivated by performing the variation
where the arms remain on the ground. B.K.S. Iyengar, a renowned expert in yoga-asanas, claims
that displaced spinal discs can be placed back in their original position by practicing the nagaasana.

Duration/Repetitions:
Hold the posture for either the duration of a held inhaled breath or from one-half to three
minutes. Repeat the naga-asana two to five times.
Variations:
The are two variations to the naga-asana. For the first, keep the arms alongside the body with
the palms facing down and lift the head and chest off the ground. This variation requires a little
more strength in order to get the full arch of the spine. The second variation is for those who
have a great deal of flexibility in the lower back. At the peak of the naga-asana bend the knees
and attempt to touch the top of the head with the soles of the feet.

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11/27/2010