Step 6(The Stick, Cobra Setup Variation
Inhalation - Exhalation) Some call this The Stick, but I'm going to give the same instructions as I would for The Cobra—a healing posture included in every tradition and found in any book on Yoga as the best posture to strengthen the spine and correct bad posture. The Sanskrit word Bhujangasana means a serpent in Sanskrit, thus the name Cobra. This posture has its own page on this site in the Postures series.
- From Step 5, the Plank or Downward Dog, come into this prone position and inhale as you come down. Let your entire body come down. Place your hands on the floor, palms down and fingers outstretched, with palms by the side of your upper body, with elbows up (a definite variation from the full Cobra, where you would not lift your elbows off the floor). Your legs are slightly apart and stretched with your toes pressed into the floor. Your head is slightly off the floor.
- This is one variation. Then exhale and wait to inhale until you move into the next position, Step 7.
- Another variation is to lower your body to the floor with your feet, knees, hands, chest and chin touching the ground. Lift your buttocks high up at the same time. This is more difficult (as illustrated here).
- Regardless of which one you choose to do, you can now concentrate on centering yourself and relaxing for a moment, while you breathe normally. You are now in the perfect position to lift your spine up for Step 7 (below), which looks very much like The Cobra.
Step 7 - Cobra Variation - Continued
- This is also called the Upward Dog. Unlike The Cobra, your head and spine will not be stretched back. Keep them upright as Eugenia shows in this image.
- With a deep inhalation, use your arms to lift your upper body off the floor. (This is quite different from The Cobra, where you use your spine to lift you, not your arms.) It is easier to keep your thighs on the floor. If you are very agile, you can also lift your thighs slightly off the floor.
- This is a great position to simply lift yourself into the Downward Dog, my variation to Step 8, which follows.
- Continue to Step 8 from here (click below for page).
FYI: More About The CobraOf course, I can't end this section without at least showing you the real Cobra posture that I have referred to so often. You are not doing this as part of the Sun Salutation. This is for a Yoga session or when you hurt your back and need a self-help healing method. Obviously, the difference is that you do not use your arms to lift you. You use your spine to rise like a Cobra. Your arms are not holding your weight. Your palms are there just for some support. When you do the Cobra correctly, the heels, toes and knees are together. Press your heels together and then stretch your knees (if you do this right, your knees will no longer touch the floor, while your toes are firmly planted on the floor). Stretch your toes, pointed. Get the feeling that you are lengthening your entire body even before you begin to rise with your upper body. The Cobra has its own page in the Postures series. A link is given above and it is also in the navigation menu (upper left) of every page.
The Cobra: This is an almost miraculous posture for anyone who has low-back problems. Whenever you do anything that strains your back, or you lean forward for a long time, or just hurt your back in any way, get down on the floor and do the Cobra 5 to 10 times. Your back will feel better! As you do this, you will inhale as you come up and exhale as you come back down to the floor with your chin.
- You can also stretch your neck and head back behind you as far as possible and press your toes into the floor, stretching your arms and stretching every muscle in your body, as in this image (taken from my DVD, available on the Products page of this site!). Your hands are still on the floor (not suspended the way they look here!).
- Between the movements, you can rest your forehead on your hands. If you have neck problems, make fists and place one on top of the other to put your forehead on the soft part where your thumb is curled in. This keeps your neck and head straight when you are lying on your tummy.