Raja Bhujangasana (King Cobra Pose) has carved out its place in the contemporary yoga canon as more than just a preparatory variation of Rajakapotasana (King Pigeon Pose). This striking asana incorporates the four elements to craft a balanced and challenging heart opener:
The roots of the hips around the hips.
The spine and upper body are able to float back and forth with liquid fluidity, washing away tension and pain.
The lungs expand forward and out, energizing your body with air and life.
The expanded breath in the lungs ignites the heart and navel fires to eliminate deep-hidden toxins in the body.
Raja Bhujangasana is an advanced asana that takes a lot of time and practice to master. Please do not force your body to bend just because you see it on the internet. The journey to reach this pose is all about opening your heart up to possibilities. (That one day, your toes would get your head…and you’d be kinder and open-hearted.)
Remember what you want to open your heart for when you do. Remember to always be kind and patient to yourself when you practice this.
Poses for the King Cobra Pose
To prepare your body for these poses, perform three to five Surya namaskar A and three to six Surya namaskar B.
Cat Stretch/Cow Tip with Focus on Shoulders
Daily practice five to ten rounds each of Cat Stretch and Cow Tilt. These movements should be done slowly with a special focus on shoulder movement. In Cat Stretch, the shoulders should press away from your spine, while in Cow Tilt, the shoulders should press down and away from your ears.
It is also the perfect time to strengthen your straight arms and wrists, sending energy to the ground.
Wall Variations of Ustrasana and Kapotasana.
Ustrasana and Kapotasana are both extremely challenging and have deep backbends. These progressive variations build towards Raja Bhujangasana.
As you practice, release the shoelaces of your feet toward the floor so that the sacrum can expand and lengthen. Gently walk your hands along the wall with the body facing the wall.
At first, your shoulders may be so tight that you can’t even touch the wall with your hands. You’ll eventually have more flexibility with your shoulders and arms so that you can walk down further. Keep your arms at shoulder width apart. You’ll subsequently be able to press your forearms into the wall. This will cause the thighs to open in the opposite direction.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose 2)
When we do deep backbends, we often forget how much flexibility and openness are needed in the front of the body. Raja Bhujangasana requires openness in the chest, upper spine, and groin. It’s also one of my few asanas where the knee is allowed to go ahead of the ankle.
Before you bring the knee forward and move the hips forward, make sure that the hips are in a square position. Please do not force the back leg up, but rather gently lift it and allow it to bend. This pose requires patience and lots of straps.
Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) Progression
Begin by strengthening your core and back with Baby Cobra Pose, and then progress to Bhujangasana. In this progression, relax the glutes to allow the sacrum to widen. The pubis should also be able to ground into the Earth. Practice reaching your shoulders all the way down to the back, away from your ears.
Are you ready for King Cobra?
You are now ready to take on the intimidating pose known as Raja Bhujangasana. Take a few deep breaths, and let your upper body lift and expand. Allow the back to bend naturally and for the head to turn upwards. Allow the legs to bend at the knees naturally.
Straighten your arms and relax your shoulders away from the ear. Enjoy the beauty of this heart-opener backbend and engage the abdominal muscles!
It is important to do this practice slowly, with care for your body, mind, and soul. Backbends such as Raja Bhujangasana help us step into the spirit that is waiting to strike. They also allow us to shed old skin and melancholy.
Enjoy some time in the following poses: Balasana, Sasangasana, and Savasana.