Get Your Own Back in Backbends! Part 1: Bhujangasana (Cobra)

“Bhujanga means a serpent. In this posture, lie flat on the floor, face downwards, lift the body up from the trunk and throw the head back like a serpent about to strike.” -Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar

PRESS YOUR ANKLES: Let's start with the foundation in the legs. The fronts of the thighs stay on the floor in this pose and the front ankles and shins press strongly into the floor. If you have tight ankles, take a small roll under your ankles in order to feel the sensation of pressing into something. As you press your ankles into the floor extend the fronts of your thighs towards the knees but bring your sit bones down towards the floor, tilting the pelvis so your lower back remains long.

RELEASE YOUR GROINS: To keep the lower back long and enable an extension of your upper body release your inner groins of the legs. Do this by turning the back of your upper thighs from inside out, moving the sit bones away from your tailbone. This will cause an internal rotation of the femur bone and if your groins are tight the lower back will arch again. Work on keeping your groins soft AND tilting the pelvis so your pubic bone moves up towards your navel and your sitbones move down towards the floor.

ENGAGE YOUR SHOULDER BLADES: Take your hands by the sides of your chest with your elbow bent and pointed towards the ceiling. Push your hands into the floor, turn your bicep from inside out to bring your outer shoulder blades in towards the spine. Attempt to release the inner shoulder (upper trapezius) area at the base of your neck, spreading the top tips of the shoulder blades away from C7 at the base of your neck.

ASCEND UP: Work on these double actions in the legs and arms: release your groins of the legs apart while pressing the ankles down and moving your sit bones towards the floor; hug your bottom outer shoulder blades in towards the spine while spreading the upper tips of the shoulder blades apart. Then, find the vertebrate right in the middle of your back around the bra strap line. Grip this vertebrate firmly at the spine, evenly on both sides and extend the back of your skull straight up towards the ceiling.

VISUALIZE: Yourself as a striking cobra. Your tail and lower body firmly rooted to the earth while your crown of the head ascends up towards the sky. 

TOMORROW, PART 2: Bringing these actions into Dhanurasana (bow pose)