Cobra pose: When normal is exciting again


I’ve been doing cobra pose probably since my first yoga class.  It’s a great backbend, and if you practice vinyasa yoga, you probably do 20 in every class. It can be chill and it can be intense.  I’d say I have a good relationship with this asana, but not an exciting one. We’ve known each other for too long.  Still, we get along, I find the pose satisfying and I’ve gotten stronger.  I know several variations and I use them all in my own practice.

steve-williams fine art prints
arms forward situation…so last year.  thx, steve-williams fine art prints

But, I’ve never really felt like a cobra. And I’ve noticed that the variations I teach my students leave them very arm dependant.  I bet they don’t feel like cobras either because cobras don’t have arms.

The further I travel on this path of yoga, the more confidence I have that ancient yogis knew what they were talking about. They say “cobra pose,” I bet it wasn’t some casual association. So I’ve been curious about this one for a while.  I’m in an online class about asana philosophy and in passing, my teacher mentioned that in this tradition, cobra pose has hands positioned back by the waist.  I took note and started using this “new” hand position a few weeks ago.  At first I thought it was interesting, fine, whatever.  I didn’t have any instant miracle, but I kept with it.  Then just this week, out of the blue, I had this bhujangasana breakthrough amazingness right there on my mat.  Really.  I feel like this practice of cobra pose, one that I thought was all neatly tied up in the bag and understood and I got it and liked it and I wasn’t going to be blown away from this particular pose anymore, blew me away.  And it wasn’t an intense or radical variation and I didn’t have to work really hard, but there it was.  My back was energized in a new way, my arms felt like they were a part of my torso and upper body and I had the experience of rising up from the inside.  I felt like a cobra!

Mr. Iyengar with his hands waaay back there by his navel. Try this variation and release your inner cobra. hissssssss.

So here, on day two of the new year, I’m still rolling around with the feeling of being wonderfully surprised by what came from something in my practice and life that just seemed so normal.  I’ve got this delight-hangover that sounds like, “If this experience is possible right in the middle of the regular life I keep on living then what else might come my way this year?”  My curiosity is reignited.  Possibilities seem like they are plentiful. Happy 2014, dear readers.  Let’s see what comes our way.


7 thoughts on “Cobra pose: When normal is exciting again

  1. The new year and first day of spring are my favorite times of the year…so full of possibilities…I may not be a cobra but I can certainly share your sense of wonderful surprise for the discovery of the new in the most mundane aspects of our everyday life…curiosity, openness, learning, and following the intuition…I hope to keep these goals alive throughout the year.
    All the best to you and your family Amanda.

    1. Sometimes I get so fixated on all the major renovations I need to make my life wonderful, but I’m starting to see how small shifts in perspective make a big difference In how I feel. So nice. Happy new year!

  2. don’t you just love it when a pose evolves like this? And don’t you love Mr Iyengar and his amazing skill in asana? My middle back isn’t very bendy, but I’m going to try what you said 🙂

    1. That’s the thing I love about this practice…it does continue to evolve in unexpected ways, right??? This version of cobra is most interesting for what it does in the upper back regions. Check it out and see what you think. I’m still exploring it.

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