The Ultimate Guide to Cobra Stretch: Steps, Benefits, & Precautions

a girl performing cobra stretch

The Cobra stretch is an adaptable stretch that corrects posture and increases flexibility in your lower back, glutes, and abdominal muscles. Practicing the cobra stretch daily can help with back pain relief, posture correction, and improved spinal health. 


What is Cobra Stretch?

In yoga, the Cobra stretch, or Bhujangasana, is an effective pose that requires stretching the back while maintaining a grounded pelvis and legs. Your lower back stretches deeply and expands the chest with a gentle arch in your spine. This will release the stress in the targeted muscles. Cobra stretch is a backbend, that offsets all the forward motion and hunches, we generate during the day when we work in front of the screens seated all day. 

When performed consistently, cobra stretch is a potent, muscle-building yoga practice. Back discomfort can be relieved, the chest and collarbones can be widened, and the entire spine and abdominal muscles can be strengthened with this slow and moderate backbend.


Benefits of Cobra Stretch

Woman practices yoga asana bhujangasana cobra pose

Better Posture

Our posture frequently deteriorates since many of us spend our workdays sitting down and looking down at our phones at night. By strengthening the muscles that support the spine, this pose helps to improve bad posture. It encourages a more erect, balanced posture and assists in correcting hunched shoulders and slouching.


Enhanced Flexibility

 The cobra position opens the shoulder blades, neck, and collar bones in addition to strengthening the back and opening the chest. It tones the glutes, reduces tension, and stimulates the stomach organs. 


Relieved Back Pain

 The cobra stretch relieves the discomfort of lower back pain. The back muscles are strengthened and stretched during this workout, which helps lessen pain, stiffness, and tension. The pose stretches the spine backward which helps to prevent ailments including spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, and herniated discs.


Reduces stress and anxiety

Mild backbends like cobra stretch help to relax the spine and the muscles of the back which induces a better quality of sleep. The stretch also leads to a feeling of upliftment and reduces any signs of anxiety and depression. Individuals who also show higher levels of emotional control who daily practice the stretch.


How to perform the Cobra stretch correctly

  1. Lie face down on the mat. Bring your legs to a hip-width distance by firmly pressing your legs and the tops of your feet on the yoga mat.
  2. Place your hands, palms down, just below your shoulder blades. Stack your elbows and wrists on the floor next to your ribs while bending your elbows.
  3. As you take a breath, start raising your spine into spinal extension by pulling your chest away from the floor.
  4. To raise the upper body press through the hands. Be careful not to put too much weight on your hands.
  5. To lift higher, use your lower back muscles. Then, use your abdominal and back muscles to lift yourself into a deeper backbend as high as possible.
  6. Maintain comfortable inhalation and exhalation and hold for 15-30 mins. 
  7. Lower down gently as you exhale.
  8. If there is any pain or discomfort, adjust the stretch or cease immediately


Common Mistakes to Avoid during Cobra Stretch

Placement of Hand: Be mindful of where you place your hands when raising your head and chest off the ground. For example, keeping the hands too far apart can limit the chest stretch which can lead to neck pain and lock shoulders. 

Lifting too high: The primary distinction between upward upward-facing dog and the cobra stretch is that one does not have to raise their hips off the ground. Focus on a mild deep stretch rather than how high you can lift the upper body. 

Position of the elbow: People tend to hold their arms straight instead of bent and relaxed, which can cause the elbows to lock and obstruct the shoulders. Your shoulder range of motion reduces as a result.

Proper leg spacing: One might hold their feet too close, to induce pressure on their feet to get help in lifting your upper body. That is the incorrect way to perform the cobra stretch. Try to put your legs close, hip-distance apart to avoid unnecessary pressure on other body parts.

Neck movement: Maintain a gentle curvature in the neck. Neck overstretching leads to breathing difficulty, which makes it challenging to hold onto the pose. As you hold the stretch, take calm, deep breaths to help your muscles release tension and relax.

Lower back strain: You will wind up with a strained lower back if you try to reach too high. Elevate yourself to a position where your thighs stay on the ground and your lower back is not put under any strain. Although we are naturally unaware of these errors, regular practice will enable us to correct them. 

Chest stretch: In addition to strengthening your shoulders and spine, the cobra stretch extends the chest. Frequently, we overuse the shoulder and neglect to use our chest area for support. 


Precautions for Cobra Stretch

Pregnancy: The cobra stretch may be avoided during pregnancy, especially during the second and third trimesters. 

Back and neck problems:  Consult with a medical expert or physiotherapist if there is a history of back problems and pain. This yoga pose is also not recommended for people with spondylitis or other neck conditions. 

Asthma: Individuals with severe asthma should practice Pranayama to enhance their breathing before attempting cobra stretch.

Recent Surgery: Avoid practicing the cobra stretch if one had spinal or abdominal surgery. Consult the healthcare professional before.

A basic yet effective workout that can enhance the back’s strength, flexibility, and general health is the cobra stretch. As always, begin cautiously, and getting advice from an instructor of a registered Yoga school is recommended. Experience the life-changing benefits by giving the Cobra stretch a try today!

Meghna Banerjee