Deepen Your Backbend Joint by Joint
with Cobra Pose

cobra pose (bhujangasana)

You can use cobra pose to strengthen your arms as well as the muscles of your back.

Use your arms in this basic yoga pose to pull your ribcage forwards and up. Pull it away from your pelvis. At the same time use your spinal erectors to bend your lumbar and thoracic spine backwards.

Because the pelvis stays on the floor, the elbows usually have to stay bent.

To enter into bujangasana (another name for cobra pose), lay down with your elbows bent and your hands just ahead of your elbows.

Lift your head and make your neck feel long by pulling your head away from your ribcage.

Bend Backwards

Without using your arms (keep them relaxed) bend your thoracic spine backwards so that your ribcage peels off of the floor. Do this slowly so that you can focus on bending backwards at each joint of your thoracic spine. (Work your way from the top of the thoracic spine to the bottom.)

To help deepen the back bend of your ribcage try moving your back ribs away from your pelvis.

If your spinal erectors are already active, lifting the ribs should be a little bit easier. (The levator costalis muscles, which lift the back of the ribs, are located beneath the spinal erectors. If the erectors are active it is relatively easy to activate the levator costalis also.)

How do you know if you are using your spinal erectors?

You'll feel them contracting up and down either side of your spine.

To make them stronger focus on increasing this contracted feeling.

This Snake Has Arms

Press your hands into the floor enough to support the weight of your ribcage and head. Use your arms to pull your ribcage forwards, away from your pelvis. Point your elbows back and move your shoulders down, away from your ears.

Keep your spinal erectors active, even as you use your shoulders and arms.

Adjust your hands so that you can press your palms flat to the floor while spreading your fingers at the same time.

Charm the Snake

Look forwards in cobra pose and pull your chin in, towards your chest. At the same time pull the back of your head back and up so that your neck feels long.

Keep your knees straight and the front of your pelvis on the floor.

Reach your knees back, away from your hip joints (to create space in the hip joint) and reach your toes back also.

You could also try pressing the tops of your feet into the floor. Imagine using this action to help lift the knees... just a little bit.

For extra support try to dig the inside edges of your shoulder blades into your back. Press your palms flat, into the floor and press your fingers down at the same time.

For extra charm, lift your eyebrows. (Do snakes have eyebrows? Probably not.)

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