Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing yoga for life.

Cobra Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Realign and tone your spine while opening up your heart in Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana).

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations


(Pronounced as "boo-jang-GAHS-anna")

The Sanskrit word bhujanga means "serpent" or "snake." In this pose, you roll your torso up like a snake preparing to strike its prey.

How to do Cobra Pose

Step One

Lie face down on your yoga mat. Put your legs and feet together, keeping the fronts of your feet resting on the ground. Point your toes. Press the palms of your hands down on the mat by the sides of your pelvis. Keep your elbows in line with your wrists.

Step Two

Tighten your knees to straighten your legs firmly. Tuck your tailbone in and press the tops of your thighs into the floor.

Step Three

Inhale while pressing your palms down to lift your torso up from the floor. Your pelvis stays in contact with the mat while you keep the weight of your body on your hands and legs. Use your legs and abdominal muscles to pull yourself up so that your torso and head are perpendicular to the ground. Do not lift your pelvis off the ground to achieve this stretch; simply stretch up as far as you can.

Step Four

Inhale as you raise your sternum up and expand your chest. Do not try to push your ribs forward. Instead, try to lengthen the front of your torso straight up. Use each inhalation to let your chest raise up as you tuck your shoulder blades into your back, keeping your shoulders down. Use each exhalation to let your tailbone and pelvis sink down more to the floor. Do not straighten your arms unless you do the advanced variation described later under "Deepen The Pose."

Step Five

Remain in the pose from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing normally. Roll back down to the floor on a long exhalation.

Beginner's Tip:

To find the proper height that you can hold without straining your back the wrong way, lift your hands off of the floor just for a moment to see where you can support yourself without your hands. Your legs, abdominals and your lifting of the back should do most of the work instead of relying so much on your hands.

Cobra Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:


Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

  • Recent lower-back injuries
  • Recent abdominal surgeries
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Pregnancy or menstruation

Modifications and Props:

If you struggle trying to raise yourself from the floor, then try a chair variation. Brace a chair against the wall and place the palms of your hands onto the front of the chair's seat, facing the wall. Then extend your legs straight out behind you into the Cobra Pose, keeping your weight on the balls of your feet.

Deepen the Pose:

If you are comfortable enough to move into a deeper backbend, then try this variation after you reach your full extension in Cobra Pose:

Walk your hands as far in front of you on the floor as you can without moving your shoulders away from their position above your hips. Straighten your arms. Inhale, press your hands into the floor and arch your head back to look up at the ceiling.

Cobra Pose Benefits

  • Builds strength in the spine
  • Promotes circulation in your chest, lungs, abdomen and shoulders
  • Alleviates stress and fatigue
  • Relieves sciatica pain
  • Improves breathing in people with asthma
  • Increases the strength of your immune system

Cobra Pose Variations


Ask a partner to help your muscles feel the correct arching action of your entire back in Cobra Pose. When you lie down on the floor, have them stand behind you and face the same direction you are. They should stand with one foot on either side of your legs.

Ask them to grab your wrists. Then arch your back while they pull you up into Cobra Pose by your straightened arms. The extra force of their lift will help you create more space in your chest and let your pelvis descend fully to form a perfectly round arch.

Next Pose:

Corpse Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

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