Begin lying face-down with the legs extended hip-distance apart and the hands spread wide underneath the shoulders. Draw the elbows in close to the ribcage. On an inhalation, firmly press the pubic bone, tops of the feet, and thighs into the floor, lift the shoulders up and back as you press into the palms to lift the chest off of the floor. Maintain a connection in the front of the body between the lower ribcage and the top of the hips, engaging from the pubic bone to the belly button. Allow the tailbone to slightly drop down, as you try not to over engage the buttocks muscles. Lift from the sternum to the top of the head, maintaining an equal openness through out the spine. Stay for a few breaths. On an exhalation, reach through the crown as you lower the chest back to the floor. Keep the elbows hugging close to the body to engage the tricep muscles and avoid the shoulders rounding forward.
This posture is called cobra for a reason. Invoke the powerful strength of this great animal by maintaining the cylinder of your body, from the head, to the shoulders, to the hips. Feel the support of both the back and front of the body. Continue radiating through the top of the head and allow the heart to melt between the shoulder blades.
This posture can be very intense into the lower back. Only come up as far as your body can support the extension of the spine. A great way to initiate this posture is to begin by lifting the hands off the floor before the chest comes up. Notice the curvature of your spine. Maintain that curvature as you press into the palms to lift up.
Avoid letting the legs lift to initiate the movement. This is a good sign that the lower back is doing too much work. Instead stay rooted through the bottom half of the body. Allow the spine to be suspended between the head and legs.
Lifting the shoulders first up and then back is a great way to get the upper arm bones out of the way of the chest lifting. Often students are encouraged to depress the shoulders, but in this posture that depression can create a jamming of the scapula or shoulder blade into the back muscles. Moving the shoulders first up and then back sets the scapula wider on the back, allowing more length in the spine. Once the chest is lifted the student can then gently slide the shoulder blades around the ribcage, rather than pushing them down and creating resistance to the openness in the chest.
- Stretches the ankles, thighs, hips, and back.
- Relieves tension and stress, by calming the nervous system.
- Massages the organs.
- Improves digestion.
WATCH OUT FOR
- Popping ribcage.
- Shoulders in the ears.
- Lifting too high and losing congruety of the spine- too much lower back.
- Legs popping off.
- Lifting the head too high.
- Shoulders in the ears.
- Heels lifting.
- Back Injuries.
Lift the hands, only come up to a place where you can support your spine without pushing. Cobra Push Up: Extend the arms in front of the body, slightly wider than the shoulders. As you inhale, slide the palms along the floor to lift the chest. On the exhalation, allow the palms to slide forward releasing back onto the ches
- To deepen the pose, with the chest lifted, step the palms slightly wider then the shoulders and walk the hands closer to the body.
- To increase the stretch in the thighs, bend both knees bringing the feet towards the head. Make sure to maintain connection to the pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles.
YOGA COUNTER POSES
Written By: Meghan Aris
Certified in several disciplines of yoga, a pilates teacher and teacher trainer, Meghan is continually widening her path of body/mind studies. At a young age she began her journey into body movement through dance. After being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, she shifted her practice to more rehabilitative yoga. In this discipline she found not only the resources to heal her body, but also a guide to living a life full of peace and joy. She can be found teaching on any given day at The Space Vancouver.