Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise, with millions of people all over the world practicing every day. One of the first poses that you may learn is Cobra Pose, an asana that opens your chest and stretches your spine.
Cobra Pose is an incredibly versatile pose- but what if you need something different? If you are looking to mix up your yoga routine, or have medical issues that make Cobra Pose uncomfortable, don’t worry! Below are 15 cool alternatives to Cobra Pose that will still stretch your spine and boost your mood.
Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
Sphinx Pose is strikingly similar to Cobra Pose and is an excellent alternative for people with back issues that make the bend in Cobra Pose uncomfortable. This pose is the precursor to all other backbends and is suitable for beginners and advanced practitioners alike.
Lie on your stomach, with your thighs pressed against the mat. Make sure, not tense your lower body as you lift onto your forearms.
Lift your chin slightly to create a small backbend. Focus elongating your spine and keeping your shoulders in place as you spend a few breaths in this position. You can lift your chin and chest as much as feels comfortable, as long as you keep your forearms flat on the mat.
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’re probably familiar with Child’s Pose. This is a foundational pose and for a good reason. It flows seamlessly into many other asanas and is a great way to both begin and end your sequence.
Child’s pose is also an excellent way to decompress after a stressful day, or if you need to focus and stretch. This pose is grounding and, like Cobra Pose, relieves back pain.
To get into Child’s Pose first kneel on the floor, towards the back of your mat. Then sit back on your heels, with your big toes touching and your knees the same width as your hips. Exhale and drop your chest between your thighs.
Tuck your hips in toward your navel and raise your tailbone slightly, letting your head move away from your neck.
Reach your arms forward so that your arms are on either side of your ears, with your palms flat on the floor. Rest in Child’s Pose for as long as you would like, whether that’s 30 seconds or three minutes.
Camel Pose is a backbend pose that strengthens the back and shoulders, much like Cobra Pose. Unlike Cobra Pose, Ustrasana is performed while kneeling on the mat as opposed to laying on the stomach.
This pose is the basis for many other deep backbends, and should not be performed if you have back issues.
To move into Camel Pose, begin by kneeling on your mat with your legs hip-width apart. Engaging your core on an inhale, reach your tailbone back towards your knees, allowing your back to stretch gently.
Inhaling again and lifting your chest, draw your elbows inward. Move your palms towards the heels of your feet, and let your head drop backward.
To come out of this backbend, gently return your chin to your chest and place your hand on your hips. Slowly lift back upwards, being careful not to make any jerky or abrupt movements.
This is a more complicated asana, and it is recommended that you do it with a teacher present to help correct your form.
This dynamic pose is named for the manifestation of Hindu deity Lord Shiva known as Nataraja. Nataraja is often depicted in mid-dance, which symbolizes divine energy flow. This asana mimics his iconic pose and requires focus and flexibility.
The Lord of the Dance Pose strengthens the spine and will improve your balance when practiced over time.
Stand in mountain pose on your mat. Shift your weight to your right foot and bring up your left leg, bending at the knee. Reach back with your left hand and grab your left foot, if possible. Once you are in this position, lift your chest and foot to improve the stretch.
Once you are stable, with your chest open, reach upward with your right hand. Stand in this position for five to ten breaths, if possible. Release the foot slowly, and return to mountain pose; then repeat the movement on the opposite side.
When you are practicing this pose for the first time, use the wall or a back of a chair to steady yourself. Do not perform this pose if you have injuries to your arms or lower back. Be very gentle and don’t strain when in this pose.
If you’re focusing on building abdomen strength and balance, then Crane Pose is the perfect pose for you. This asana is light and fun, just like the animal that it represents. Do this pose in sequence with others to ease your body into the movement.
Begin by standing in mountain pose, then bend your knees slightly and lean over, touching your palms to the floor. Spread your fingers so that you have more surface area.
Standing on the balls of your feet, position your upper body so that shoulders fit between your knees. Lean forward with your palms in front of your chest, resting your knees against your shoulders.
Lift your feet off of the floor one at a time. You will need to engage your lower body as well as your arms to hold this pose. To come out, transfer your weight back to your feet and stand up slowly.
Listen to your body, and do not hold this pose for longer than you feel comfortable, especially if you are unsupervised.
Often paired together to give your spine a gentle warmup, Cat and Cow Poses are perfect for beginners. They are also perfect for days when you don’t have the time for a lengthy yoga flow, but still want to stretch and tone your body. You can do these
To get into Cow Pose, first get onto all fours, keeping your back flat. Make sure that your hips are in alignment with your wrists and hips and that you are looking down at your mat.
Once you are in the proper position, inhale and gently raise your chest and seat upward, keeping your knees and hands firmly on the mat. Your stomach will drop a little towards the floor.
Next, you will move on to Cat Pose. On the exhale, round your tailbone towards the ceiling. Be sure to hold your knees and shoulders in position as you let your head release to the floor. Hold this position for a couple of breaths, and then return to the tabletop position.
Repeat this sequence 10-15 times to warm and stretch your spine. This is an excellent asana for recovery days and is also a good stretch for those who engage in more demanding forms of exercise, such as heavy cardio and weightlifting.
This asana also knew the Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. A deceptively simple pose, this asana also strengthens the spine and aids in digestion.
It is a good alternative for those with back pain or is unable to lay on their belly. Once you have mastered this Simple Seated Twist, move on to other seated twists like Marichyasana III.
Begin in Staff Pose, with your legs pressed flat against the floor. Then lift your right leg and bend at the knee, keeping your foot on the floor. Make sure that it is as close to your left leg as possible. Once you are comfortable in that position, move your right foot over your left leg.
Pressing your right hand into the mat, gently turn your torso to face the right. Rest your left arm on the right leg. Use this position to stretch and elongate the spine gently.
When you are ready to end this pose, turn your upper body back to the start position and slowly lower your leg. Then repeat the pose on the opposite side.
Feathered Peacock Pose is an impressive headstand pose that relies on forearm balance. This asana requires upper body strength, balance, and some bravery. Feathered Peacock Pose is not as challenging as it seems, especially if you aren’t new to yoga.
Facing a wall, get into a modified Downward Facing Dog Pose with your palms and forearms pressed to the floor and your fingertips touching the base of the wall.
Make sure that this position feels stable; tuck your shoulder blades in towards your tailbone if you need more support. Make sure that your fingers are spread, to give you more surface area.
Bend your left knee and step in towards the wall, keeping your right leg engaged. Then, when you feel ready, launch yourself upside down. This may take some time to complete, and it may be a while before you can balance.
Once you can balance, hold the pose for as long as you can. This may be five seconds or a whole minute, but make sure to listen to your body and come out the pose when it gets uncomfortable.
This pose is not recommended for those who have back injuries or blood pressure issues. Don’t expect to nail this pose on the first try, but when you do master it, gradually begin moving away from the wall. With much practice, you can do this pose on your mat without support.
This final pose is not for the faint of heart! Pigeon Pose is a backbend asana that tests your flexibility and concentration. Much like Cobra Pose, Kapotasana strengthens the spine and the abdominal muscles.
It also stretches your upper body and opens up your lungs. It’s best to do Kapotasana in the morning before you’ve eaten since it’s recommended that you do this r asana on an empty stomach.
To begin this sequence, first get into Camel Pose. Then inhale and stabilize your tailbone by lowering it towards the floor. Reach for the ceiling with your left hand, and hold this pose, breathing deeply. Then lift the other arm and hold this position for a few breaths before moving on.
With both arms alongside your ears, slowly bend backward, leading with your chest. Avoid tensing your core or crunching up your back as you do this.
Rest your palms on the floor just behind your feet. Take a few breaths in this position before moving on, or stay here if you are not comfortable with bending any further.
If you’ve mastered the first part of this and want more of a challenge, move your forearms to the floor. You may need to put a slight bend in your knees. Walk your hands to the heels of your feet one at a time.
Once you are holding them, gently bend your elbows to the floor. Hold this position for a few breaths
To come out of Pigeon Pose, slowly and carefully move back through each step you have just taken until you are back in Camel Pose. Since Kapotasana is so intense, it is recommended that you go into Child’s Pose or another restful pose.
Pigeon pose has modifications that involve bringing up one foot instead of arching completely backward. This pose is not safe for those who have back injuries, migraines, insomnia, or issues with blood pressure.
Be sure to make plenty of moves that lead up to this pose to prevent injury, and stop if you feel any pain while doing this backbend.
Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana, is a backbend pose often seen yoga flows, especially those for beginners. This asana is called Cobra Pose because when your chest is lifted from the ground, you look like a snake ready to strike.
Even though Cobra Pose is a simple pose, it is highly effective and has a myriad of physical and mental benefits.
Cobra pose involves lightly stretching your back, which helps improves blood flow to the spine. This stretching can alleviate back issues and help strengthen the muscles there. Cobra pose is also known to soothe sciatica, a pain that is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerves.
In contrast, this pose puts some pressure on your lower back, which strengthens your lower abdominal muscles. It also is said to aid in digestion.
In ayurvedic medicine, issues with digestion are thought to be the root cause of many other ailments such as migraines, so this pose is believed to improve a lot of different issues.
Cobra Pose opens the chest, encouraging deep breathing. That makes this pose therapeutic for people living with asthma and those with other lung ailments. Some health professionals even believe that Cobra Pose is useful for reducing the symptoms of tuberculosis.
Since this asana improves blood flow, it is to revitalize believed the liver, kidney, and heart. This increase in blood flow is also thought to help issues of infertility and other ovarian struggles. At the very least, it provides a boost in mood and energy.
This pose can be simplified with the addition of a chair. Push the chair against the wall and do the pose while standing with your hands on the seat. To make the pose more advanced, deepen the backbend. Make sure not to go too far back to avoid injury.
Don’t forget, your yoga practice is personal, and should be tailored to your own needs. Any of the above poses are fabulous adds to your routine but don’t push yourself too far beyond your comfort zone. Each pose can be adapted to maximize whatever it is you’re hoping to get from your practice.
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